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Published by Arrangement with Harper & Brother* 
Made in the United State* of America 


B Z 












X. LOST! 115 












XXII. STRICKEN DOWN ........... 275 

XXIII. OUT OF THE JUNGLE .......... 294 





"\A7HAT a change from the Arizona 

VV desert!" 

The words broke from the lips of Ken 
Ward as he leaned from the window of 
the train which was bearing his brother 
and himself over the plateau to Tampico 
in Tamaulipas, the southeastern state of 
Mexico. He had caught sight of a river 
leaping out between heavily wooded slopes 
and plunging down in the most beautiful 
waterfall he had ever seen. 

"Look, Hal," he cried. 

The first fall was a long white streak, 
ending in a dark pool; below came cascade 
after cascade, fall after fall, some wide, 


others narrow, and all white and green against 
the yellow rock. Then the train curved 
round a spur of the mountain, descended to 
a level, to be lost in a luxuriance of jungle 

It was indeed a change for Ken Ward,, 
young forester, pitcher of the varsity nine at 
school, and hunter of lions in the Arizona 
canons. Here he was entering the jungle 
of the tropics. The rifles and the camp out- 
fit on the seat beside his brother Hal and 
himself spoke of coming adventures. Before 
them lay an unknown wilderness the semi- 
tropical jungle. And the future was to show 
that the mystery of the jungle was stranger 
even than their imaginings. 

It was not love of adventure alone or in- 
terest in the strange new forest growths that 
had drawn Ken to the jungle. His uncle, 
the one who had gotten Ken letters from the 
Forestry Department at Washington, had 
been proud of Ken's Arizona achievements. 
This uncle was a member of the American 
Geographical Society and a fellow of the New 
York Museum of Natural History. He wanted 
Ken to try his hand at field work in the jungle 
of Mexico, and if that was successful, then to 
explore the ruined cities of wild Yucatan. 
If Ken made good as an explorer his reward 


was to be a trip to Equatorial Africa after big 
game. And of course that trip meant oppor- 
tunity to see England and France, and, what 
meant more to Ken, a chance to see the great 
forests of Germany, where forestry had been 
carried on for three hundred years. 

In spite of the fact that the inducement 
was irresistible, and that Ken's father was as 
proud and eager as Ken's uncle to have him 
make a name for himself, and that Hal 
would be allowed to go with him, Ken had 
hesitated. There was the responsibility for 
Hal and the absolute certainty that Hal 
could not keep out of mischief. Still Ken 
simply could not have gone to Mexico leav- 
ing his brother at home broken-hearted. 

At last the thing had been decided. It was 
Hal's ambition to be a naturalist and to col- 
lect specimens, and the uncle had held out 
possible recognition from the Smithsonian 
Institution at Washington. Perhaps he might 
find a new variety of some animal to which 
the scientists would attach his name. Then 
the lad was passionately eager to see Ken 
win that trip to Africa. There had been 
much study of maps and books of travel, 
science, and natural history. There had 
been the most careful instruction and equip- 
ment for semi-tropical camp life. The uncle 



had given Ken valuable lessons in map- 
drawing, in estimating distance and topog- 
raphy, and he had indicated any one of 
several rivers in the jungle belt of Mexico. 
Traversing one hundred miles of unknown 
jungle river, with intelligent observation and 
accurate reports, would win the prize for Ken 
Ward. Now the race was on. Would Ken 

Presently the train crossed a bridge. Ken 
Ward had a brief glance at clear green water, 
at great cypress-trees, gray and graceful 
with long, silvery, waving moss, and at the 
tangled, colorful banks. A water-fowl black 
as coal, with white-crested wings, skimmed the 
water in swift wild flight, to disappear up the 
shady river-lane. Then the train clattered 
on, and, a mile or more beyond the bridge, 
stopped at a station called Valles. In the 
distance could be seen the thatched palm- 
leaf huts and red-tiled roofs of a hamlet. 

The boys got out to stretch their legs. The 
warm, sweet, balmy air was a new and novel 
thing to them. They strolled up and down 
the gravel walk, watching the natives. Hal 
said he rather liked the looks of their brown 
bare feet and the thin cotton trousers and 
shirts, but he fancied the enormous sombreros 
were too heavy and unwieldy. Ken spoke 



to several pleasant-faced Mexicans, each of 
whom replied: "No sabe, Senor." 

The ticket agent at the station was an 
American, and from the way he smiled and 
spoke Ken knew he was more than glad to 
see one of his own kind. So, after Ken had 
replied to many questions about the States, 
he began to ask some of his own. 

"What's the name of the waterfall we 

"Micas Falls," replied the agent. 

"And the river?" 

"It's called the Santa Rosa." 

"Where does it go?" 

The agent did not know, except that it 
disappeared in the jungle. Southward the 
country was wild. The villages were few and 
all along the railroad; and at Valles the river 
swung away to the southwest. 

"But it must flow into the Panuco River," 
said Ken. He had studied maps of Mexico 
and had learned all that it was possible to 
learn before he undertook the journey. 

"Why, yes, it must find the Panuco some- 
where down over the mountain," answered 
the agent. 

"Then there are rapids in this little river?" 
asked Ken, in growing interest. 

"Well, I guess. It's all rapids." 


"How far to Tampico by rail?" went on 

"Something over a hundred miles." 

"Any game in the jungle hereabouts 
or along the Santa Rosa?" continued Ken. 

The man laughed, and laughed in such a 
way that Ken did not need his assertion 
that it was not safe to go into the jungle. 

Whereupon Ken Ward became so thought- 
ful that he did not hear the talk that followed 
between the agent and Hal. The engine 
bell roused him into action, and with Hal 
he hurried back to their seats. And then 
the train sped on. But the beauty of Micas 
Falls and the wildness of the Santa Rosa 
remained with Ken. Where did that river 
go? How many waterfalls and rapids did 
it have? What teeming life must be along 
its rich banks ! It haunted Ken. He wanted 
to learn the mystery of the jungle. There 
was the same longing which had gotten him 
into the wild adventures in Penetier Forest and 
the Grand Canon country of Arizona. And 
all at once flashed over him the thought that 
here was the jungle river for him to explore. 

"Why, that's the very thing," he said, 
thinking aloud. 

"What's wrong with you," asked Hal, 
"talking to yourself that way?" 



Ken did not explain. The train clattered 
between green walls of jungle, and occasionally 
stopped at a station. But the thought of the 
jungle haunted him until the train arrived at 

Ken had the name of an American hotel, 
and that was all he knew about Tampico. 
The station was crowded with natives. Man 
after man accosted the boys, jabbering ex- 
citedly in Mexican. Some of these showed 
brass badges bearing a number and the 
word Cargodore. 

"Hal, I believe these fellows are porters 
or baggage-men," said Ken. And he showed 
his trunk check to one of them. The fellow 
jerked it out of Ken's hand and ran off. 
The boys ran after him. They were relieved 
to see him enter a shed full of baggage. And 
they were amazed to see him kneel down and 
take their trunk on his back. It was a big 
trunk and heavy. The man was small and light. 

"It '11 smash him!" cried Hal. 

But the little cargodore walked off with the 
trunk on his back. Then Ken and Hal saw 
other cargodores packing trunks. The boys 
kept close to their man and used their eyes 
with exceeding interest. The sun was set- 
ting, and the square, colored buildings looked 
as if they were in a picture of Spain. 
2 7 


"Look at the boats canoes!" cried Hal, 
as they crossed a canal. 

Ken saw long narrow canoes that had been 
hollowed out from straight tree-trunks. They 
were of every size, and some of the paddles 
were enormous. Crowds of natives were 
jabbering and jostling each other at a rude 

"Look back," called Hal, who seemed to 
have a hundred eyes. 

Ken saw a wide, beautiful river, shining 
red in the sunset. Palm-trees on the distant 
shore showed black against the horizon. 

"Hal, that's the Panuco. What a river!" 

"Makes the Susquehanna look like a creek," 
was Hal's comment. 

The cargodore led the boys through a plaza, 
down a narrow street to the hotel. Here 
they were made to feel at home. The pro- 
prietor was a kindly American. The hotel 
was crowded, and many of the guests were 
Englishmen there for the tarpon-fishing, with 
sportsmen from the States, and settlers com- 
ing in to take up new lands. It was pleasant 
for Ken and Hal to hear their own language 
once more. After dinner they sallied forth 
to see the town. But the narrow dark streets 
and the blanketed natives stealing silently 
along were not particularly inviting. The 



boys got no farther than the plaza, where 
they sat down on a bench. It was wholly 
different from any American town. Ken 
suspected that Hal was getting homesick, 
for the boy was quiet and inactive. 

"I don't like this place," said Hal. "What 
'd you ever want to drag me way down here 

"Humph! drag you? Say, you pestered 
the life out of me, and bothered Dad till he 
was mad, and worried mother sick to let 
you come on this trip." 

Hal hung his head. 

"Now, you're not going to show a streak of 
yellow?" asked Ken. He knew how to stir 
his brother. 

Hal rose to the attack and scornfully re- 
pudiated the insinuation. Ken replied that 
they were in a new country and must not 
reach conclusions too hastily. 

"I liked it back up there at the little village 
where we saw the green river and the big 
trees with the gray streamers on them," 
said Hal. 

"Well, I liked that myself," rejoined Ken. 
"I'd like to go back there and put a 
boat in the river and come all the way 

Ken had almost unconsciously expressed 


the thought that had been forming in his 
mind. Hal turned slowly and looked at his 

"Ken, that *d be great that's what we 
came for!" 

"I should say so," replied Ken. 
"Well?" asked Hal, simply. 

That question annoyed Ken. Had he not 
come south to go into the jungle? Had he 
come with any intention of shirking the 
danger of a wild trip? There was a subtle 
flattery in Hal's question. 

"That Santa Rosa River runs through the 
jungle," went on Hal. "It flows into the 
Panuco somewhere. You know we figured 
out on the map that the Panuco' s the only 
big river in this jungle. That's all we want 
to know. And, Ken, you know you're a 
born boatman. Why, look at the rapids we've 
shot on the Susquehanna. Remember that 
trip we came down the Juniata? The water 
was high, too. Ken, you can take a boat 
down that Santa Rosa!" 

"By George! I believe I can," exclaimed 
Ken, and he thrilled at the thought. 

"Ken, let's go. You'll win the prize, and 
I'll get specimens. Think what we'd have 
to tell Jim Williams and Dick Leslie when we 
go West next summer!" 



"Oh, Hal, I know but this idea of a trip 
seems too wild." 

"Maybe it wouldn't be so wild." 

In all fairness Ken could not deny this, so 
he kept silent. 

"Ken, listen," went on Hal, and now he 
was quite cool. "If we'd promised the 
Governor not to take a wild trip I wouldn't 
say another word. But we're absolutely 

"That's why we ought to be more careful. 
Dad trusts me." 

"He trusts you because he knows you can 
take care of yourself, and me, too. You're 
a wonder, Ken. Why, if you once made up 
your mind, you'd make that Santa Rosa River 
look like a canal." 

Ken began to fear that he would not be 
proof against the haunting call of that jungle 
river and the flattering persuasion of his 
brother and the ever-present ambition to show 
his uncle what he could do. 

"Hal, if I didn't have you with me I'd 
already have made up my mind to tackle 
this river." 

That appeared to insult Hal. 

"All I've got to say is I'd be a help to you 
not a drag," he said, with some warmth. 

"You're always a help, Hal. I can't say 


anything against your willingness. But you 
know your weakness. By George! you made 
trouble enough for me in Arizona. On a trip 
such as this you'd drive me crazy." 

"Ken, I won't make any rash promises. 
I don't want to queer myself with you. 
But I'm all right." 

"Look here, Hal; let's wait. We've only 
got to Tampico. Maybe such a trip is im- 
practicable impossible. Let's find out more 
about the country." 

Hal appeared to take this in good spirit. 
The boys returned to the hotel and went to 
bed. Hal promptly fell asleep. But Ken 
Ward lay awake a long time thinking of the 
green Santa Rosa, with its magnificent moss- 
festooned cypresses. And when he did go to 
sleep it was to dream of the beautiful water- 
fowl with the white-crested wings, and_he 
was following it on its wild flight down the 
dark, mysterious river-trail into the jungle. 



HAL'S homesickness might never have 
been in evidence at all, to judge from 
the way the boy, awakening at dawn, began 
to talk about the Santa Rosa trip. 

"Well," said Ken, as he rolled out of bed, 
"I guess we're in for it." 
, "Ken, will we go?" asked Hal, eagerly. 

"I'm on the fence." 
. "But you're leaning on the jungle side?" 

"Yes, kid I'm slipping." 

Hal opened his lips to let out a regular 
Hiram Bent yell, when Ken clapped a hand 
over his mouth. 

"Hold on we're in the hotel yet." 

It took the brothers long to dress, because 
they could not keep away from the window. 
The sun was rising in rosy glory over misty 
lagoons. Clouds of creamy mist rolled above 
the broad Panuco. Wild ducks were flying 
low. The tiled roofs of the stone houses 
gleamed brightly, and the palm-trees glistened 


with dew. The soft breeze that blew in was 
warm, sweet, and fragrant. 

After breakfast the boys went out to the 
front and found the hotel lobby full of fisher- 
men and their native boatmen. It was an 
interesting sight, as well as a surprise, for 
Ken and Hal did not know that Tampico 
was as famous for fishing as it was for hunt- 
ing. The huge rods and reels amazed them. 

"What kind of fish do these fellows fish 
for?" asked Hal. 

Ken was well enough acquainted with 
sport to know something about tarpon, but 
he had never seen one of the great silver fish. 
And he was speechless when Hal led him 
into a room upon the walls of which were 
mounted specimens of tarpon from six to 
seven feet in length and half as wide as a 

"Say, Ken! We've come to the right 
place. Those fishermen are all going out to 
fish for such whales as these here." 

"Hal, we never saw a big fish before," said 
Ken. "And before we leave Tampico we'll 
know what it means to hook tarpon." 

"I'm with you," replied Hal, gazing doubt- 
fully and wonderingly at a fish almost twice 
as big as himself. 

Then Ken, being a practical student of 


fishing, as of other kinds of sport, began to 
stroll round the lobby with an intent to learn. 
He closely scrutinized the tackle. And he 
found that the bait used was a white mullet 
six to ten inches long, a little fish which re- 
sembled the chub. Ken did not like the long, 
cruel gaff which seemed a necessary adjunct 
to each outfit of tackle, and he vowed that 
in his fishing for tarpon he would dispense 
with it. 

Ken was not backward about asking ques- 
tions, and he learned that Tampico, during 
the winter months, was a rendezvous for 
sportsmen from all over the world. For the 
most part, they came to catch the leaping 
tarpon; the shooting along the Panuco, how- 
ever, was as well worth while as the fishing. 
But Ken could not learn anything about the 
Santa Rosa River. The tierra caliente, or hot 
belt, along the curve of the Gulf was inter- 
sected by small streams, many of them un- 
known and unnamed. The Panuco swung 
round to the west and had its source some- 
where up in the mountains. Ken decided 
that the Santa Rosa was one of its head- 
waters. Valles lay up on the first swell of 
higher ground, and was distant from Tampico 
some six hours by train. So, reckoning with 
the meandering course of jungle streams, 



Ken calculated he would have something 
like one hundred and seventy-five miles to 
travel by water from Valles to Tampico. 
There were Indian huts strung along the 
Panuco River, and fifty miles inland a village 
named Panuco. What lay between Panuco 
and Valles, up over the wild steppes of that 
jungle, Ken Ward could only conjecture. 

Presently he came upon Hal in conversa- 
tion with an American boy, who at once 
volunteered to show them around. So they 
set out, and were soon becoming well ac- 
quainted. Their guide said he was from 
Kansas; had been working in the railroad 
offices for two years; and was now taking a 
vacation. His name was George Ailing. Un- 
der his guidance the boys spent several in- 
teresting hours going about the city. Dur- 
ing this walk Hal showed his first tendency 
to revert to his natural bent of mind. Not for 
long could Hal Ward exist without making 
trouble for something. In this case it was 
buzzards, of which the streets of Tampico 
were full. In fact, George explained, the 
buzzards were the only street-cleaning de- 
partment in the town. They were as tame 
as tame turkeys, and Hal could not resist 
the desire to chase them. And he could be 
made to stop only after a white-helmeted 



officer had threatened him. George ex- 
plained further that although Tampico had 
no game-laws it protected these buzzard- 
scavengers of the streets. 

The market-house at the canal wharf was 
one place where Ken thought Hal would 
forget himself in the bustle and din and color. 
All was so strange and new. Indeed, for a 
time Hal appeared to be absorbed in his sur- 
roundings, but when he came to a stall where 
a man had parrots and racoons and small 
deer, and three little yellow, black-spotted 
tiger-cats, as George called them, then once 
more Ken had to take Hal in tow. Outside 
along the wharf were moored a hundred or 
more canoes of manifold variety. All had 
been hewn from solid tree-trunks. Some 
were long, slender, graceful, pretty to look 
at, and easy to handle in shallow lagoons, 
but Ken thought them too heavy and cum- 
bersome for fast water. Happening just 
then to remember Micas Falls, Ken had a 
momentary chill and a check to his en- 
thusiasm for the jungle trip. What if he en- 
countered, in coming down the Santa Rosa, 
some such series of cascades as those which 
made Micas Falls! 

It was about noon when George led the 
boys out to the banks of the broad Panuco. 



Both Hal and Ken were suffering from the 
heat. They had removed their coats, and 
were now very glad to rest in the shade. 

"This is a nice cool day," said George, and 
he looked cool. 

"We've got on our heavy clothes, and this 
tropic sun is new to us," replied Ken. "Say, 

A crash in the water near the shore in- 
terrupted Ken. 

"Was that a rhinoceros?" inquired Hal. 

"Savalo," said George. 

"What's that?" 

"Silver king. A tarpon. Look around 
and you'll see one break water. There are 
some fishermen trolling down-stream. Watch. 
Maybe one will hook a fish presently. Then 
you'll see some jumping." 

It was cool in the shade, as the brothers 
soon discovered, and they spent a delightful 
hour watching the river and the wild fowl 
and the tarpon. Ken and Hal were always 
lucky. Things happened for their benefit 
and pleasure. Not only did they see many 
tarpon swirl like bars of silver on the water, 
but a fisherman hooked one of the great fish 
not fifty yards from where the boys sat. 
And they held their breath, and with starting 
eyes watched the marvelous leaps and dashes 



of the tarpon till, as he shot up in a last 
mighty effort, wagging his head, slapping his 
huge gills, and flinging the hook like a bullet, 
he plunged back free. 

"Nine out often get away, "remarked George. 

" Did you ever catch one?" asked Hal. 


"Hal, I've got to have some of this fishing," 
said Ken. " But if we start at it now would 
we ever get that jungle trip?" 

"Oh, Ken, you've made up your mind to 
go!" exclaimed Hal, in glee. 

"No, I haven't," protested Ken. 

"Yes, you have," declared Hal. "I know 
you." And the whoop that he had suppressed 
in the hotel he now let out with good measure. 

Naturally George was interested, and at 
his inquiry Ken told him the idea for the 
Santa Rosa trip. 

"Take me along," said George. There was 
a note of American spirit in his voice, a laugh 
on his lips, and a flash in his eyes that made 
Ken look at him attentively. He was a slim 
youth, not much Hal's senior, and Ken 
thought if ever a boy had been fashioned to 
be a boon comrade of Hal Ward this George 
Ailing was the boy. 

"What do you think of the trip?" inquired 
Ken, curiously. 


"Fine. We'll have some fun. Well get 
a boat and a mozo " 

"What's a mozo?" 

"A native boatman." 

" That's a good idea. I hadn't thought of a 
boatman to help row. But the boat is the 
particular thing. I wouldn't risk a trip in 
one of those canoes." 

"Come on, I'll find a boat," said George. 

And before he knew it George and Hal 
were leading him back from the river. George 
led him down narrow lanes, between painted 
stone houses and iron-barred windows, till 
they reached the canal. They entered a yard 
where buzzards, goats, and razor-back pigs 
were contesting over the scavenger rights. 
George went into a boat-house and pointed 
out a long, light, wide skifT with a flat bottom. 
Ken did not need George's praise, or the 
shining light in Hal's eyes, or the boat- 
keeper's importunities to make him eager to 
try this particular boat. Ken Ward knew a 
boat when he saw one. He jumped in, 
shoved it out, rowed up the canal, pulled and 
turned, backed water, and tried every stroke 
he knew. Then he rested on the oars and 
whistled. Hal's shout of delight made him 
stop whistling. Those two boys would have 
him started on the trip if he did not look sharp. 



"It's a dandy boat," said Ken. 

"Only a peso a day, Ken," went on Hal. 
"One dollar Mex fifty cents in our money. 
Quick, Ken, hire it before somebody else gets it. ' ' 

"Sure I'll hire the boat," replied Ken; "but 
Hal, it's not for that Santa Rosa trip. We'll 
have to forget that." 

"Forget your grandmother!" cried Hal. 
And then it was plain that he tried valiantly 
to control himself, to hide his joy, to pretend 
to agree with Ken's ultimatum. 

Ken had a feeling that his brother knew 
him perfectly, and he was divided between 
anger and amusement. They returned to 
the hotel and lounged in the lobby. The 
proprietor was talking with some Americans, 
and as he now appeared to be at leisure he 
introduced the brothers and made himself 
agreeable. Moreover, he knew George Ailing 
well. They began to chat, and Ken was con- 
siderably annoyed to hear George calmly 
state that he and his new-found friends in- 
tended to send a boat up to Valles and come 
down an unknown jungle river. 

The proprietor laughed, and, though the 
laugh was not unpleasant, somehow it nettled 
Ken Ward. 

"Why not go?" he asked, quietly, and hd 
looked at the hotel man. 



"My boy, you can't undertake any trip 
like that." 

"Why not?" persisted Ken. "Is there any 
law here to prevent our going into the jungle?" 

"There's no law. No one could stop you. 
But, my lad, what's the sense of taking such 
a fool trip? The river here is full of tarpon 
right now. There are millions of ducks and 
geese on the lagoons. You can shoot deer 
and wild turkey right on the edge of town. 
If you want tiger and javelin, go out to one of 
the ranches where they have dogs to hunt 
with, where you'll have a chance for your 
life. These tigers and boars will kill a man. 
There's all the sport any one wants right 
close to Tampico." 

"I don't see how all that makes a reason 
why we shouldn't come down the Santa 
Rosa," replied Ken. "We want to explore 
map the river." 

The hotel man seemed nettled in return. 

"You're only kids. It 'd be crazy to start 
out on that wild trip." 

It was on Ken's lips to mention a few of 
the adventures which he believed justly gave 
him a right to have pride and confidence in 
his ability. But he forbore. 

"It's a fool trip," continued the proprie- 
tor. " You don't know this river. You don't 



know where you'll come out. It's wild up 
in that jungle. I've hunted up at Valles, 
and no native I ever met would go a mile 
from the village. If you take a mozo he'll 
get soaked with canya. He'll stick a knife 
in you or run off and leave you when you 
most need help. Nobody ever explored that 
river. It '11 likely be full of swamps, sand- 
bars, bogs. You'd get fever. Then the croc- 
odiles, the boars, the bats, the snakes, the 
tigers! Why, if you could face these you'd 
still have the ticks the worst of all. The 
ticks would drive men crazy, let alone boys. 
It's no undertaking for a boy." 

The mention of all these dangers would 
have tipped the balance for Ken in favor of 
the Santa Rosa trip, even if the hint of his 
callowness had not roused his spirit. 

"Thank you. I'm sure you mean kindly," 
said Ken. "But I'm going to Valles and I'll 
come down that jungle river." 




r "PHE moment the decision was made Ken 
* felt both sorry and glad. He got the 
excited boys outside away from the critical 
and anxious proprietor. And Ken decided 
it was incumbent upon him to adopt a serious 
and responsible manner, which he was far 
from feeling. So he tried to be as cool as 
Hiram Bent, with a fatherly interest in the 
two wild boys who were to accompany him 
down the Santa Rosa. 

"Now, George, steer us around till we find 
a mozo," said Ken. "Then well buy an out- 
fit and get started on this trip before you 
can say Jack Robinson." 

All the mozos the boys interviewed were 
eager to get work; however, when made ac- 
quainted with the nature of the trip they 
refused point blank. 

"Tigre!" exclaimed one. 

"Javelin!" exclaimed another. 

The big spotted jaguar of the jungle and 


the wild boar, or peccary, were held in much 
dread by the natives. 

"These natives will climb a tree at sight 
of a tiger or pig," said George. "For my 
part I'm afraid of the garrapatoes and the 

"What 're they?" asked Hal. 

"Ticks jungle ticks. Just wait till you 
make their acquaintance." 

Finally the boys met a mozo named Pepe, 
who had often rowed a boat for George. 
Pepe looked sadly in need of a job; still he 
did not ask for it. George said that Pepe 
had been one of the best boatmen on the 
river until canya, the fiery white liquor to 
which the natives were addicted, had ruined 
his reputation. Pepe wore an old sombrero, 
a cotton shirt and sash, and ragged trousers. 
He was barefooted. Ken noted the set of 
his muscular neck, his brawny shoulders and 
arms, and appreciated the years of rowing 
that had developed them. But Pepe's hag- 
gard face, deadened eyes, and listless manner 
gave Ken pause. Still, Ken reflected, there 
was never any telling what a man might do, 
if approached right. Pepe's dejection excited 
Ken's sympathy. So Ken clapped him on 
the shoulder, and, with George acting as in- 
terpreter, offered Pepe work for several weeks 



at three pesos a day. That was more than 
treble the mozo's wage. Pepe nearly fell off 
the canal bridge, where he was sitting, and a 
light as warm and bright as sunshine flashed 
into his face. 

"Si, Senor Si, Senor," he began to jabber, 
and waved his brown hands. 

Ken suspected that Pepe needed a job 
and a little kind treatment. He was sure of 
it when George said Pepe's wife and children 
were in want. Somehow Ken conceived a 
liking for Pepe, and believed he could trust 
him. He thought he knew how to deal with 
poor Pepe. So he gave him money, told 
him to get a change of clothes and a pair of 
shoes, and come to the hotel next day. 

"He'll spend the money for canya, and not 
show up to-morrow," said George. 

"I don't know anything about your na- 
tives, but that fellow will come," declared 

It appeared that the whole American colony 
in Tampico had been acquainted with Ken 
Ward's project, and made a business to way- 
lay the boys at each corner. They called 
the trip a wild-goose chase. They declared 
it was a dime-novel idea, and could hardly 
take Ken seriously. They mingled astonish- 
ment with amusement and concern. They 



advised Ken not to go, and declared they 
would not let him go. Over and over again 
the boys were assured of the peril from 
ticks, bats, boars, crocodiles, snakes, tigers, 
and fevers. 

"That's what I'm taking the trip for," 
snapped Ken, driven to desperation by all 
this nagging. 

"Well, young man, I admire your nerve," 
concluded the hotel man. "If you're de- 
termined to go, we can't stop you. And 
there's some things we would like you to find 
out for us. How far do tarpon run up the 
Panuco River? Do they spawn up there? 
How big are the new-born fish? I'll furnish 
you with tackle and preserved mullet, for 
bait. We've always wondered about how 
far tarpon go up into fresh water. Keep your 
eye open for signs of oil. Also look at the 
timber. And be sure to make a map of the 

When it came to getting the boat shipped 
the boys met with more obstacles. But 
for the friendly offices of a Texan, an employee 
of the railroad, they would never have been 
able to convince the native shipping agent 
that a boat was merchandise. The Texan 
arranged the matter and got Ken a freight 
bill. He took an entirely different view of 



Ken's enterprise, compared with that of other 
Americans, and in a cool, drawling voice, 
which somehow reminded Ken of Jim Wil- 
liams, he said: 

"Shore you -all will have the time of 
your lives. I worked at Valles for a year. 
That jungle is full of game. I killed three 
big tigers. You-all want to look out for 
those big yellow devils. One in every three 
will jump for a man. There's nothing but 
shoot, then. And the wild pigs are bad. 
They put me up a tree more than once. 
I don't know much about the Santa Rosa. 
Its source is above Micas Falls. Never 
heard where it goes. I know it's full of croc- 
odiles and rapids. Never saw a boat or a 
canoe at Valles. And say there are big black 
snakes in the jungle. Look out for them, too. 
Shore you-all have sport a-comin'." 

Ken thanked the Texan, and as he went 
on up-street, for all his sober thoughtfulness, 
he was as eager as Hal or George. However, 
his position as their guardian would not per- 
mit any show of extravagant enthusiasm. 

Ken bought blankets, cooking utensils, 
and supplies for three weeks. There was not 
such a thing as a tent in Tampico. The 
best the boys could get for a shelter was a 
long strip of canvas nine feet wide. 



"That '11 keep off the wet," said Ken, "but 
it won't keep out the mosquitoes and things." 

"Couldn't keep 'em out if we had six 
tents," replied George. 

The remainder of that day the boys were 
busy packing the outfit. 

Pepe presented himself at the hotel next 
morning an entirely different person. He was 
clean-shaven, and no longer disheveled. He 
wore a net* sombrero, a white cotton shirt, 
a red sash, and blue trousers. He carried 
a small bundle, a pair of shoes, and a long 
machete. The dignity with which he ap- 
proached before all the other mozos was not 
lost upon Ken Ward. A sharp scrutiny 
satisfied him that Pepe had not been drink- 
ing. Ken gave him several errands to do. 
Then he ordered the outfit taken to the 
station in Pepe's charge. 

The boys went down early in the afternoon. 
It was the time when the mozos were return- 
ing from the day's tarpon-fishing on the 
river, and they, with the cargodores, streamed 
to and fro on the platform. Pepe was there 
standing guard over Ken's outfit. He had 
lost his fame among his old associates, and 
for long had been an outsider. Here he was 
in charge of a pile of fine guns, fishing-tackle, 
baggage, and supplies a collection represent- 



ing a fortune to him and his simple class. 
He had been trusted with it. It was under 
his eye. All his old associates passed by to 
see him there. That was a great time for 
Pepe. He looked bright, alert, and supreme- 
ly happy. It would have fared ill with 
thieves or loafers who would have made 
themselves free with any of the articles under 
his watchful eye. 

The train pulled out of Tampico at five 
o'clock, and Hal's "We're off!" was expres- 

The railroad lay along the river-bank, 
and the broad Panuco was rippling with the 
incoming tide. If Ken and Hal had not 
already found George to be invaluable as a 
companion in this strange country they would 
have discovered it then. For George could 
translate Pepe's talk, and explain much that 
otherwise would have been dark to the broth- 
ers. Wild ducks dotted the green surface, 
and spurts showed where playful ravalo were 
breaking water. Great green-backed tarpon 
rolled their silver sides against the little 
waves. White cranes and blue herons stood 
like statues upon the reedy bars. Low down 
over the opposite bank of the river a long 
line of wild geese winged its way toward a 
shimmering lagoon. And against the gold 



and crimson of the sunset sky a flight of 
wild fowl stood out in bold black relief. The 
train crossed the Tamesi River and began to 
draw away from the Panuco. On the right, 
wide marshes, gleaming purple in the darken- 
ing light, led the eye far beyond to endless 
pale lagoons. Birds of many kinds skimmed 
the weedy flats. George pointed out a flock 
of aigrets, the beautiful wild fowl with the 
priceless plumes. Then there was a string 
of pink flamingoes, tall, grotesque, wading 
along with waddling stride, feeding with 
heads under water. 

"Great!" exclaimed Ken Ward. 

"It's all so different from Arizona," said 

At Tamos, twelve miles out of Tampico, 
the train entered the jungle. Thereafter 
the boys could see nothing but the impene- 
trable green walls that lined the track. At 
dusk the train reached a station called Las 
Palmas, and then began to ascend the first 
step of the mountain. The ascent was steep, 
and, when it was accomplished, Ken looked 
down and decided that step of the mountain 
was between two and three thousand feet 
high. The moon was in its first quarter, 
and Ken, studying this tropical moon, found 
it large, radiant, and a wonderful green-gold. 



It shed a soft luminous glow down upon the 
sleeping, tangled web of jungle. It was new 
and strange to Ken, so vastly different from 
barren desert or iron-ribbed canon, and it 
thrilled him with nameless charm. 

The train once more entered jungle walls, 
and as the boys could not see anything out 
of the windows they lay back in their seats 
and waited for the ride to end. They were 
due at Valles at ten o'clock, and the impatient 
Hal complained that they would never get 
there. At length a sharp whistle from the 
engine caused Pepe to turn to the boys with a 

"Valles," he said. 

With rattle and clank the train came to a 
halt. Ken sent George and Pepe out, and he 
and Hal hurriedly handed the luggage through 
the open window. When the last piece had 
been passed into Pepe's big hands the boys 
made a rush for the door, and jumped off 
as the train started. 

"Say, but it's dark," said Hal. 

As the train with its lights passed out of 
sight Ken found himself in what seemed a 
pitchy blackness. He could not see the boys. 
And he felt a little cold sinking of his heart 
at the thought of such black nights on an 
unknown jungle riyer. 




PRESENTLY, as Ken's eyes became ac- 
1 customed to the change, the darkness 
gave place to pale moonlight. A crowd of 
chattering natives, with wide sombreros on 
their heads and blankets over their shoulders, 
moved round the little stone station. Visitors 
were rare in Valles, as was manifested by the 
curiosity aroused by the boys and the pile 
of luggage. 

"Ask Pepe to find some kind of lodging for 
the night," said Ken to George. 

Pepe began to question the natives, and soon 
was lost in the crowd. Awhile after, as Ken 
was making up his mind they might have to 
camp on the station platform, a queer low 
'bus drawn by six little mules creaked up. 
Pepe jumped off the seat beside the driver, and 
began to stow the luggage away in the 'bus. 
Then the boys piled in behind, and were soon 
bowling along a white moonlit road. The 
soft voices of natives greeted their passing. 



Valles appeared to be about a mile from 
the station, and as they entered the village 
Ken made out rows of thatched huts, and here 
and there a more pretentious habitation of 
stone. At length the driver halted before 
a rambling house, partly stone and partly 
thatch. There were no lights; in fact, Ken 
did not see a light in the village. George 
told the boys to take what luggage each 
could carry and follow the guide. Inside 
the house it was as dark as a dungeon. The 
boys bumped into things and fell over each 
other trying to keep close to the barefooted 
and mysterious guide. Finally they climbed 
to a kind of loft, where the moonlight streamed 
in at the open sides. 

"What do you think of this?" panted Hal, 
who had struggled with a heavy load of 
luggage. Pepe and the guide went down to 
fetch up the remainder of the outfit. Ken 
thought it best to stand still until he knew 
just where he was. But Hal and George 
began moving about in the loft. It was very 
large and gloomy, and seemed open, yet full 
of objects. Hal jostled into something which 
creaked and fell with a crash. Then followed 
a yell, a jabbering of a frightened native, and 
a scuffling about. 

"Hal, what 'd you do?" called Ken, severely. 



"You can search me," replied Hal Ward. 
"One thing I busted my shin." 

"He knocked over a bed with some one 
sleeping in it," said George. 

Pepe arrived in the loft then and soon 
soothed the injured feelings of the native 
who had been so rudely disturbed. He then 
led the boys to their cots, which were no more 
than heavy strips of canvas stretched over 
tall frameworks. They appeared to be enor- 
mously high for beds. Ken's was as high 
as his head, and Ken was tall for his age. 

"Say, I'll never get up into this thing," 
burst out Hal. "These people must be 
afraid to sleep near the floor. George, why 
are these cots so high?" 

"I reckon to keep the pigs and dogs and 
all that from sleeping with the natives," 
answered George. "Besides, the higher you 
sleep in Mexico the farther you get from 
creeping, crawling things." 

Ken had been of half a mind to sleep on 
the floor, but George's remark had persuaded 
him to risk the lofty cot. It was most 
awkward to climb into. Ken tried several 
times without success, and once he just 
escaped a fall. By dint of muscle and a good 
vault he finally landed in the center of his 
canvas. From there he listened to his more 



unfortunate comrades. Pepe got into his 
without much difficulty. George, however, 
in climbing up, on about the fifth attempt 
swung over too hard and rolled off on the 
other side. The thump he made when he 
dropped jarred the whole loft. From the 
various growls out of the darkness it developed 
that the loft was full of sleepers, who were not 
pleased at this invasion. Then Hal's cot 
collapsed, and went down with a crash. 
And Hal sat on the flattened thing and 

"Mucho malo," Pepe said, and he laughed, 
too. Then he had to get out and put up 
Hal's trestle bed. Hal once again went to 
climbing up the framework, and this time, 
with Pepe's aid, managed to surmount it. 

"George, what does Pepe mean by mucho 
malo?" asked Hal. 

"Bad very much bad," replied George. 

1 ' Nix tell him nix. This is fine, ' ' said Hal. 

"Boys, if you don't want to sleep your- 
selves, shut up so the rest of us can," ordered 

He liked the sense of humor and the good 
fighting spirit of the boys, and fancied they 
were the best attributes in comrades on a 
wild trip. For a long time he heard a kind 
of shuddering sound, which he imagined was 



Hal's cot quivering as the boy laughed. Then 
absolute quiet prevailed, the boys slept, 
and Ken felt himself drifting. 

When he awakened the sun was shining 
through the holes in the thatched roof. 
Pepe was up, and the other native sleepers 
were gone. Ken and the boys descended from 
their perches without any tumbles, had a 
breakfast that was palatable although even 
George could not name what they ate and 
then were ready for the day. 

Valles consisted of a few stone houses and 
many thatched huts of bamboo and palm. 
There was only one street, and it was full of 
pigs, dogs, and buzzards. The inhabitants 
manifested a kindly interest and curiosity, 
which changed to consternation when they 
learned of the boys' project. Pepe ques- 
tioned many natives, and all he could learn 
about the Santa Rosa was that there was an 
impassable waterfall some few kilometers 
below Valles. Ken gritted his teeth and said 
they would have to get past it. Pepe did not 
encounter a man who had ever heard of the 
headwaters of the Panuco River. There were 
only a few fields under cultivation around 
Valles, and they were inclosed by impene- 
trable jungle. It seemed useless to try to 
find out anything about the river. But 



Pepe's advisers in the village told enough 
about tigre and javelin to make Hal's hair 
stand on end, and George turn pale, and 
Ken himself wish they had not come. It all 
gave Ken both a thrill and a shock. 

There was not much conversation among the 
boys on the drive back to the station. How- 
ever, sight of the boat, which had come by 
freight, stirred Ken with renewed spirit, and 
through him that was communicated to the 

The hardest task, so far, developed in the 
matter of transporting boat and supplies out 
to the river. Ken had hoped to get a hand- 
car and haul the outfit on the track down to 
where the bridge crossed the Santa Rosa. 
But there was no hand-car. Then came the 
staggering information that there was no 
wagon which would carry the boat, and then 
worse still in the fact that there was no road. 
This discouraged Ken; nevertheless he had 
not the least idea of giving up. He sent 
Pepe out to tell the natives there must be 
some way to get the outfit to the river. 

Finally Pepe found a fellow who had a cart. 
This fellow claimed he knew a trail that went 
to a point from which it would be easy to 
carry the boat to the river. Ken had Pepe 
hire the man at once. 



"Bring on your old cart," said the irre- 
pressible Hal. 

That cart turned out to be a remarkable 
vehicle. It consisted of a narrow body be- 
tween enormously high wheels. A trio of 
little mules was hitched to it. The driver 
willingly agreed to haul the boat and outfit 
for one peso, but when he drove up to the 
platform to be surrounded by neighbors, he 
suddenly discovered that he could not possibly 
accommodate the boys. Patiently Pepe tried 
to persuade him. No, the thing was im- 
possible. He made no excuses, but he looked 

"George, tell Pepe to offer him five pesos," 
said Ken. 

Pepe came out bluntly with the induce- 
ment, and the driver began to sweat. From 
the look of his eyes Ken fancied he had not 
earned so much money in a year. Still he 
was cunning, and his whispering neighbors 
lent him support. He had the only cart in 
the village, and evidently it seemed that for- 
tune had come to knock at least once at his 
door. He shook his head. 

Ken held up both hands with fingers spread. 
"Ten pesos," he said. 

The driver, like a crazy man, began to jab- 
ber his consent. 

4 39 


The boys lifted the boat upon the cart, and 
tied it fast in front so that the stern would not 
sag. Then they packed the rest of the out- 
fit inside. 

Ken was surprised to see how easily the 
little mules trotted off with such a big load. 
At the edge of the jungle he looked back 
toward the station. The motley crowd of 
natives were watching, making excited ges- 
tures, and all talking at once. The driver 
drove into a narrow trail, which closed be- 
hind him. Pepe led on foot, brushing aside 
the thick foliage. Ken drew a breath of 
relief as he passed into the cool shade. The 
sun was very hot. Hal and George brought 
up the rear, talking fast. 

The trail was lined and overgrown with 
slender trees, standing very close, making 
dense shade. Many birds, some of beautiful 
coloring, flitted in the branches. In about 
an hour the driver entered a little clearing 
where there were several thatched huts. 
Ken heard the 'puffing of an engine, and, 
looking through the trees, he saw the rail- 
road and knew they had arrived at the 
pumping-station and the bridge over the 
Santa Rosa. 

Pepe lost no time in rounding up six 
natives to carry the boat. They did not seem 



anxious to oblige Pepe, although they plainly 
wanted the money he offered. The trouble 
was the boat, at which they looked askance. 
As in the case with the driver, however, the 
weight and clinking of added silver overcame 
their reluctance. They easily lifted the boat 
upon their shoulders. And as they entered 
the trail, making a strange procession in the 
close-bordering foliage, they encountered two 
natives, who jumped and ran, yelling: "La 
diable! La diable!" 

"What ails those gazabos?" asked Hal. 

"They're scared," replied George. "They 
thought the boat was the devil." 

If Ken needed any more than had already 
come to him about the wildness of the Santa 
Rosa, he had it in the frightened cries and 
bewilderment of these natives. They had 
never seen a boat. The Santa Rosa was a 
beautiful wild river upon which boats were 
unknown. Ken had not hoped for so much. 
And now that the die was cast he faced the 
trip with tingling gladness. 

" George and Hal, you stay behind to watch 
the outfit. Pepe and I will carry what we 
can and follow the boat. I'll send back after 
you," said Ken. 

Then as he followed Pepe and the natives 
down the trail there was a deep satisfaction 



within him. He heard the soft rush of water 
over stones and the mourning of turtle- 
doves. He rounded a little hill to come 
abruptly upon the dense green mass of river 
foliage. Giant cypress- trees, bearded with 
gray moss, fringed the banks. Through the 
dark green of leaves Ken caught sight of 
light-green water. Birds rose all about him. 
There were rustlings in the thick under- 
brush and the whir of ducks. The natives 
penetrated the dark shade and came out to 
an open, grassy point. 

The Santa Rosa, glistening, green, swift, 
murmured at Ken's feet. The natives dropped 
the boat into the water, and with Pepe 
went back for the rest of the outfit. Ken 
looked up the shady lane of the river and 
thought of the moment when he had crossed 
the bridge in the train. Then, as much as he 
had longed to be there, he had not dared to 
hope it. And here he was! How strange 
it was, just then, to see a large black duck 
with white-crested wings sweep by as swift 
as the wind! Ken had seen that wild fowl, 
or one of his kind, and it had haunted him. 


I N less than an hour all the outfit had been 
A carried down to the river, and the boys 
sat in the shade, cooling off, happily conscious 
that they had made an auspicious start. 

It took Ken only a moment to decide to 
make camp there and the next day try to 
reach Micas Falls. The mountains appeared 
close at hand, and were so lofty that, early 
in the afternoon as it was, the westering sun 
hung over the blue summits. The notch 
where the Santa Rosa cut through the range 
stood out clear, and at most it was not 
more than eighteen miles distant. So Ken 
planned to spend a day pulling up the river, 
and then to turn for the down-stream trip. 

"Come, boys, let's make camp," said Ken. 

He sent Pepe with his long machete into the 
brush to cut fire- wood. Hal he set to making 
a stone fireplace, which work the boy rather 
prided himself upon doing well. Ken got 
George to help him to put up the strip of 



canvas. They stretched a rope between two 
trees, threw the canvas over it, and pegged 
down the ends. 

"Say, how 're we going to sleep?" inquired 
Hal, suddenly. 

"Sleep? Why, on our backs, of course," 
retorted Ken, who could read Hal's mind. 

"If we don't have some hot old times 
keeping things out of this tent, I'm a lobster," 
said George, dubiously. "I'm going to sleep 
in the middle." 

"You're a brave boy, George," replied 

"Me for between Ken and Pepe," added 

"And you're twice as brave," said Ken. 
"I dare say Pepe and I will be able to keep 
things from getting at you." 

Just as Pepe came into camp staggering 
under a load of wood, a flock of russet-colored 
ducks swung round the bend. They alighted 
near the shore at a point opposite the camp. 
The way George and Hal made headers into 
the pile of luggage for their guns gave Ken 
an inkling of what he might expect from these 
lads. He groaned, and then he laughed. 
George came up out of the luggage first, and 
he had a .22-caliber rifle, which he quickly 
loaded and fired into the flock. He crippled 



one ; the others flew up-stream. Then George 
began to waste shells trying to kill the crip- 
pled duck. Hal got into action with his .22. 
They bounced bullets off the water all around 
the duck, but they could not hit it. 

Pepe grew as excited as the boys, and he 
jumped into the boat and with a long stick 
began to pole out into the stream. Ken 
had to caution George and Hal to lower their 
guns and not shoot Pepe. Below camp and 
just under the bridge the water ran into a 
shallow rift. The duck got onto the current 
and went round the bend, with Pepe polling 
in pursuit and George and Hal yelling along 
the shore. When they returned a little 
later, they had the duck, which was of an un- 
known species to Ken. Pepe had fallen over- 
board; George was wet to his knees; and, 
though Hal did not show any marks of undue 
exertion, his eyes would have enlightened any 
beholder. The fact was that they were 
glowing with the excitement of the chase. 
It amused Ken. He felt that he had to try 
to stifle his own enthusiasm. There had to 
be one old head in the party. But if he did 
have qualms over the possibilities of the boys 
to worry him with their probable escapades, 
he still felt happy at their boundless life and 



It was about the middle of the afternoon, 
and the heat had become intense. Ken 
realized it doubly when he saw Pepe favoring 
the shade. George and Hal were hot, but they 
appeared to be too supremely satisfied with 
their surroundings to care about that. 

During this hot spell, which lasted from 
three o'clock until five, there was a quiet 
and a lack of life around camp that sur- 
prised Ken. It was slumberland; even the 
insects seemed drowsy. Not a duck and 
scarcely a bird passed by. Ken heard the 
mourning of turtle-doves, and was at once 
struck with the singular deep, full tone. 
Several trains crossed the bridge, and at 
intervals the engine at the pumping-tank 
puffed and chugged. From time to time a 
native walked out upon the bridge to stare 
long and curiously at the camp. 

When the sun set behind the mountain 
a hard breeze swept down the river. Ken 
did not know what to make of it, and at first 
thought there was going to be a storm. Pepe 
explained that the wind blew that way every 
day after sunset. For a while it tossed the 
willows, and waved the Spaniard 's-beard upon 
the cypresses. Then as suddenly as it had 
come it died away, taking the heat with it. 

Whereupon the boys began to get supper, 


"George, do you know anything about 
this water?" asked Ken. "Is it safe?" 

George supposed it was all right, but he 
did not know. The matter of water had 
bothered Ken more than any other thing in 
consideration of the trip. This river- water 
was cool and clear; it apparently was safe. 
But Ken decided not to take any chances, 
and to boil all the water used. All at once 
George yelled, "Canvasbacks!" and made a 
dive for his gun. Ken saw a flock of ducks 
swiftly winging flight up-stream. 

"Hold on, George; don't shoot," called 
Ken. "Let's go a little slow at the start." 

George appeared to be disappointed, though 
he promptly obeyed. 

Then the boys had supper, rinding the 
russet duck much to their taste. Ken made 
a note of Pepe's capacity, and was glad there 
were prospects of plenty of meat. While 
they were eating, a group of natives gathered 
on the bridge. Ken would not have liked to 
interpret their opinion of his party from their 

Night came on almost before the boys 
were ready for it. They replenished the 
camp-fire, and sat around it, looking into the 
red blaze and then out into the flickering 
shadows. Ken thought the time propitious 



for a little lecture he had to give the boys^ 
and he remembered how old Hiram Bent 
had talked to him and Hal that first night 
down under the great black rim-wall of the 
Grand Canon. 

"Well, fellows," began Ken, "we're started, 
we're here, and the trip looks great to me. 
Now, as I am responsible, I intend to be boss. 
I want you boys to do what I tell you. I may 
make mistakes, but if I do I'll take them on 
my shoulders. Let's try to make the trip 
a great success. Let's be careful. We're 
not game-hogs. We'll not kill any more than 
we can eat. I want you boys to be careful 
with your guns. Think all the time where 
you're pointing them. And as to thinking, 
we'd do well to use our heads all the time. 
We've no idea what we're going up against 
in this jungle." 

Both boys listened to Ken with attention 
and respect, but they did not bind themselves 
by any promises. 

Ken had got out the mosquito-netting, ex- 
pecting any moment to find it very service- 
able; however, to his surprise it was not 
needed. When it came time to go to bed, 
Hal and George did not forget to slip in be- 
tween Pepe and Ken. The open-sided tent 
might keep off rain or dew, but for all the 



other protection it afforded, the boys might as 
well have slept outside. Nevertheless they 
were soon fast asleep. Ken awoke a couple 
of times during the night and rolled over to 
find a softer spot in the hard bed. These 
times he heard only the incessant hum of 

When he opened his eyes in the gray 
morning light, he did hear something that 
made him sit up with a start. It was a deep 
booming sound, different from anything that 
he had ever heard. Ken called Pepe, and 
that roused the boys. 

"Listen," said Ken. 

In a little while the sound was repeated, a 
heavy "boo-oom! . . . boo-oom!" There was 
a resemblance to the first strong beats of a 
drumming grouse, only infinitely wilder. 

Pepe called it something like "faisan real." 

"What's that?" asked Hal. 

The name was as new to Ken as the noise 
itself. Pepe explained through George that 
it was made by a huge black bird not unlike a 
turkey. It had a golden plume, and could 
run as fast as a deer. The boys rolled out, 
all having conceived a desire to see such a 
strange bird. The sound was not repeated. 
Almost immediately, however, the thicket 
across the river awoke to another sound, as 



much a contrast to the boom as could be 
imagined. It was a bird medley. At first Ken 
thought of magpies, but Pepe dispelled this 
illusion with another name hard to pronounce, 

"Chicalocki," he said. 

And that seemed just like what they were 
singing. It was a sharp, clear song "Chic- 
a-lock-i . . . chic-a-lock-i," and to judge from 
the full chorus there must have been many 

"They're a kind of pheasant," added 
George, "and make fine pot-stews." 

The chicalocki ceased their salute to the 
morning, and then, as the river mist melted 
away under the rising sun, other birds took 
it up. Notes new to Ken burst upon the air. 
And familiar old songs thrilled him, made him 
think of summer days on the Susquehanna 
the sweet carol of the meadow-lark, the whistle 
of the quail, the mellow, sad call of the swamp- 
blackbird. The songs blended in an exquisite 

"Why, some of them are our own birds 
come south for the winter," declared Hal. 

"It's music," said Ken. 

"Just wait," laughed George. 

It dawned upon Ken then that George was 
a fellow who had the mysterious airs of a 
prophet hinting dire things. 



Ken did not know what to wait for, but 
he enjoyed the suggestion and anticipated 
much. Ducks began to whir by; flocks of 
blackbirds alighted in the trees across the 
river. Suddenly Hal jumped up, and Ken 
was astounded at a great discordant screech- 
ing and a sweeping rush of myriads of wings. 
Ken looked up to see the largest flock of birds 
he had ever seen. 

"Parrots," he yelled. 

Indeed they were, and they let the boys 
know it. They flew across the river, wheeled 
to come back, all the time screeching, and then 
they swooped down into the tops of the 

"Red-heads," said George. "Just wait till 
you see the yellow-heads!" 

At the moment the red-heads were quite 
sufficient for Ken. They broke out into a 
chattering, screaming, cackling discordance. 
It was plainly directed at the boys. These 
intelligent birds were curious and resentful. 
As Pepe put it, they were scolding. Ken 
enjoyed it for a full half -hour and reveled 
in the din. That morning serenade was 
worth the trip. Presently the parrots flew 
away, and Ken was surprised to find that most 
of the other birds had ceased singing. They 
had set about the business of the day 



something it was nigh time for Ken to con- 

Breakfast over, the boys broke camp, 
eager for the adventures that they felt to be 
before them. 



"1VTOW for the big job, boys," called Ken. 
I N "Any ideas will be welcome, but don't 
all talk at once." 

And this job was the packing of the out- 
fit in the boat. It was a study for Ken, and 
he found himself thanking his lucky stars 
that he had packed boats for trips on rapid 
rivers. George and Hal came to the fore 
with remarkable advice which Ken was at 
the pains of rejecting. And as fast as one 
wonderful idea emanated from the fertile 
minds another one came in. At last Ken lost 

"Kids, it's going to take brains to pack 
this boat," he said, with some scorn. 

And when Hal remarked that in that case 
he did not see how they ever were going to 
pack the boat, Ken drove both boys away 
and engaged Pepe to help. 

The boat had to be packed for a long trip, 
with many things taken into consideration. 



The very best way to pack it must be decided 
upon and thereafter held to strictly. Balance 
was all-important; comfort and elbow-room 
were not to be overlooked; a flat surface 
easy to crawl and jump over was absolutely 
necessary. Fortunately, the boat was large 
and roomy, although not heavy. The first 
thing Ken did was to cut out the narrow 
bow-seat. Here he packed a small bucket 
of preserved mullet, some bottles of kerosene 
and canya, and a lantern. The small, flat 
trunk, full of supplies, went in next. Two 
boxes with the rest of the supplies filled up 
the space between the trunk and the rowing- 
seat. By slipping an extra pair of oars, 
coils of rope, the ax, and a few other articles 
between the gunwales and the trunk and boxes 
Ken made them fit snugly. He cut off a 
piece of the canvas, and, folding it, he laid it 
with the blankets lengthwise over the top. 
This made a level surface, one that could be 
gotten over quickly, or a place to sleep, for 
that matter, and effectually disposed of the 
bow half of the boat. Of course the boat sank 
deep at the bow, but Ken calculated when they 
were all aboard their weight would effect an 
even balance. 

The bags with clothing Ken put under the 
second seat. Then he arranged the other 



piece of canvas so that it projected up back 
of the stern of the boat. He was thinking 
of the waves to be buffeted in going stern 
first down-stream through the rapids. The 
fishing-tackle and guns he laid flat from seat 
to seat. Last of all he placed the ammuni- 
tion on one side next the gunwale, and the 
suit-case carrying camera, films, medicines, 
on the other. 

"Come now, fellows," called Ken. "Hal, 
you and George take the second seat. Pepe 
will take the oars. I'll sit in the stern." 

Pepe pushed off, jumped to his place, and 
grasped the oars. Ken was delighted to 
find the boat trim, and more buoyant than he 
had dared to hope. 

"We're off," cried Hal, and he whooped. 
And George exercised his already well-de- 
veloped faculty of imitating Hal. 

Pepe bent to the oars, and under his power- 
ful strokes the boat glided up-stream. Soon 
the bridge disappeared. Ken had expected 
a long, shady ride, but it did not turn out so. 
Shallow water and gravelly rapids made 
rowing impossible. 

"Pile out, boys, and pull," said Ken. 

The boys had dressed for wading and rough 
work, and went overboard with a will. Pull- 
ing, at first, was not hard work. They were 

5 55 


fresh and eager, and hauled the boat up 
swift, shallow channels, making nearly as 
good time as when rowing in smooth water. 
Then, as the sun began to get hot, splashing 
in the cool river was pleasant. They passed 
little islands green with willows and came to 
high clay -banks gradually wearing away, 
and then met with rocky restrictions in the 
stream-bed. From round a bend came a 
hollow roar of a deeper rapid. Ken found it 
a swift-rushing incline, very narrow, and hard 
to pull along. The margin of the river was 
hidden and obstructed by willows so that the 
boys could see very little ahead. 

When they got above this fall the water 
was deep and still. Entering the boat again, 
they turned a curve into a long, beautiful 
stretch of river. 

"Ah! this 's something like," said Hal. 

The green, shady lane was alive with birds 
and water-fowl. Ducks of various kinds rose 
before the boat. White, blue, gray, and 
speckled herons, some six feet tall, lined the 
low bars, and flew only at near approach. 
There were many varieties of bitterns, one 
kind with a purple back and white breast. 
They were very tame and sat on the over- 
hanging branches, uttering dismal croaks. 
Everywhere was the flash and glitter and 



gleam of birds in flight, up and down and 
across the river. 

Hal took his camera and tried to get pictures. 

The strangeness, beauty, and life of this 
jungle stream absorbed Ken. He did not 
take his guns from their cases. The water 
was bright green and very deep; here and 
there were the swirls of playing fish. The 
banks were high and densely covered with a 
luxuriant foliage. Huge cypress-trees, moss- 
covered, leaned half-way across the river. 
Giant gray-barked ceibas spread long branches 
thickly tufted with aloes, orchids, and other 
jungle parasites. Palm-trees lifted slender 
stems and graceful broad-leaved heads. 
Clumps of bamboo spread an enormous green 
arch out over the banks. These bamboo- 
trees were particularly beautiful to Ken. 
A hundred yellow, black-circled stems grew 
out of the ground close together, and as they 
rose high they gracefully leaned their bodies 
and drooped their tips. The leaves were 
arrowy, exquisite in their fineness. 

He looked up the long river-lane, bright 
in the sun, dark and still under the moss- 
veiled cypresses, at the turning vines and 
blossoming creepers, at the changeful web 
of moving birds, and indulged to the fullest 
that haunting sense for wild places. 



"Chicalocki," said Pepe, suddenly. 

A flock of long- tailed birds, resembling 
the pheasant in body, was sailing across the 
river. Again George made a dive for a gun. 
This one was a sixteen-gage and worn out. 
He shot twice at the birds on the wing. 
Then Pepe rowed under the overhanging 
branches, and George killed three chicalocki 
with his rifle. They were olive green in 
color, and the long tail had a brownish cast. 
Heavy and plump, they promised fine eating. 

"Pato real!" yelled Pepe, pointing excited- 
ly up the river. 

Several black fowl, as large as geese, hove 
in sight, flying pretty low. Ken caught a 
glimpse of wide, white-crested wings, and 
knew then that these were the birds he had 

"Load up and get ready," he said to 
George. "They're coming fast shoot ahead 
of them." 

How swift and powerful they were on the 
wing! They swooped up when they saw the 
boat, and offered a splendid target. The 
little sixteen-gage rang out. Ken heard the 
shot strike. The leader stopped in midair, 
dipped, and plunged with a sounding splash. 
Ken picked him up and found him to be most 
beautiful, and as large and heavy as a goose. 


His black feathers shone with the latent green 
luster of an opal, and the pure white of the 
shoulder of the wings made a remarkable 

"George, we've got enough meat for to-day, 
more than we can use. Don't shoot any 
more," said Ken. 

Pepe resumed rowing, and Ken told him 
to keep under the overhanging branches and 
to row without splashing. He was skilled 
in the use of the oars, so the boat glided along 
silently. Ken felt he was rewarded for this 
stealth. Birds of rare and brilliant plumage 
flitted among the branches. There was one, 
a long, slender bird, gold and black with a 
white ring round its neck. There were little 
yellow-breasted kingfishers no larger than 
a wren, and great red-breasted kingfishers 
with blue backs and tufted heads. The boat 
passed under a leaning ceiba-tree that was 
covered with orchids. Ken saw the slim, 
sharp head of a snake dart from among the 
leaves. His neck was as thick as Ken's wrist. 

"What kind of a snake, Pepe?" whispered 
Ken, as he fingered the trigger of George's 
gun. But Pepe did not see the snake, and 
then Ken thought better of disturbing the 
silence with a gunshot. He was reminded, 
however, that the Texan had told him of 



snakes in this jungle, some of which measured 
more than fifteen feet and were as large as a 
man's leg. 

Most of the way the bank was too high 
and steep and overgrown for any animal to 
get down to the water. Still there were dry 
gullies, or arroyos, every few hundred yards, 
and these showed the tracks of animals, but 
Pepe could not tell what species from the 
boat. Often Ken heard the pattering of 
hard feet, and then he would see a little 
cloud of dust in one of these drinking-places. 
So he cautioned Pepe to row slower and closer 
in to the bank. 

"Look there! lemme out!" whispered Hal, 
and he seemed to be on the point of jumping 

"Coons," said George. "Oh, a lot of 
them. There some young ones." 

Ken saw that they had come abruptly 
upon a band of racoons, not less than thirty 
in number, some big, some little, and a few 
like tiny balls of fur, and all had long white- 
ringed tails. What a scampering the big 
ones set up ! The little ones were frightened, 
and the smallest so tame they scarcely made 
any effort to escape. Pepe swung the boat 
in to the bank, and reaching out he caught a 
baby racoon and handed it to Hal. 



"Whoop! We'll catch things and tame 
them," exclaimed Hal, much delighted, and 
he proceeded to tie the little racoon under 
the seat. 

"Sure, we'll get a whole menagerie," said 

So they went on up-stream. Often Ken 
motioned Pepe to stop in dark, cool places 
under the golden-green canopy of bamboos. 
He was as much fascinated by the beautiful 
foliage and tree growths as by the wild life. 
Hal appeared more taken up with the flut- 
tering of birds in the thick jungle, rustlings, 
and soft, stealthy steps. Then as they moved 
on Ken whispered and pointed out a black 
animal vanishing in the thicket. Three times 
he caught sight of a spotted form slipping 
away in the shade. George saw it the last 
time, and whispered: "Tiger-cat! Let's get 

"What's that, Ken, a kind of a wildcat?" 
asked Hal. 

"Yes." Ken took George's .32-caliber and 
tried to find a way up the bank. There was 
no place to climb up unless he dragged him- 
self up branches of trees or drooping bam- 
boos, and this he did not care to attempt en- 
cumbered with a rifle. Only here and there 
could he see over the matted roots and creepers. 



Then the sound of rapids put hunting out of 
his mind. 

"Boys, we've got Micas Falls to reach," 
he said, and told Pepe to row on. 

The long stretch of deep river ended in a 
wide, shallow, noisy rapid. Fir-trees lined 
the banks. The palms, cypresses, bamboos, 
and the flowery, mossy growths were not here 
in evidence. Thickly wooded hills rose on 
each side. The jungle looked sear and yellow. 

The boys began to wade up the rapid, 
and before they had reached the head of it 
Pepe yelled and jumped back from where he 
was wading at the bow. He took an oar and 
began to punch at something in the water, 
at the same time calling out. 

"Crocodile!" cried George, and he climbed 
in the boat. Hal was not slow in following 
suit. Then Ken saw Pepe hitting a small 
crocodile, which lashed out with its tail and 

" Come out of there," called Ken to the boys. 
"We can't pull you up-stream." 

"Say, I don't want to step on one of those 
ugly brutes," protested Hal. 

"Look sharp, then. Come out." 

Above the rapid extended a quarter-mile 
stretch where Pepe could row, and beyond 
that another long rapid. When the boys 



had waded up that it was only to come to 
another. It began to be hard work. But 
Ken kept the boys buckled down, and they 
made fair progress. They pulled up through 
eighteen rapids, and covered distance that 
Ken estimated to be about ten miles. The 
blue mountain loomed closer and higher, yet 
Ken began to have doubts of reaching Micas 
Falls that day. 

Moreover, as they ascended the stream, 
the rapids grew rougher. 

"It '11 be great coming down," panted Hal. 

Finally they reached a rapid which had long 
dinned in Ken's ears. All the water in the 
river rushed down on the right-hand side 
through a channel scarcely twenty feet wide. 
It was deep and swift. With the aid of ropes, 
and by dint of much hard wading and pulling, 
the boys got the boat up. A little farther 
on was another bothersome rapid. At last 
they came to a succession of falls, steps in the 
river, that barred farther advance up-stream. 

Here Ken climbed up on the bank, to find 
the country hilly and open, with patches of 
jungle and palm groves leading up to the 
mountains. Then he caught a glint of Micas 
Falls, and decided that it would be impossible 
to get there. He made what observations 
he could, and returned to camp. 



"Boys, here's where we stop," said Ken. 
"It '11 be all down-stream now, and I'm glad." 

There was no doubt that the boys were 
equally glad. They made camp on a 
grassy bench above a foam - flecked pool. 
Ken left the others to get things in shape for 
supper, and, taking his camera, he hurried off 
to try to get a picture of Micas Falls. He 
found open places and by-paths through the 
brushy forest. He saw evidences of forest 
fire, and then knew what had ruined that part 
of the jungle. There were no birds. It was 
farther than he had estimated to the foothill 
he had marked, but, loath to give up, he kept 
on and finally reached a steep, thorny ascent. 
Going up he nearly suffocated with heat. 
He felt rewarded for his exertions when he 
saw Micas Falls glistening in the distance. 
It was like a string of green fans connected 
by silver ribbons. He remained there watch- 
ing it while the sun set in the golden notch 
between the mountains. 

On the way back to camp he waded through 
a flat overgrown with coarse grass and bushes. 
Here he jumped a herd of deer, eight in num- 
ber. These small, sleek, gray deer appeared 
tame, and if there had been sufficient light,' 
Ken would have photographed them. It 
cost him an effort to decide not to fetch his 

6 4 


rifle, but as he had meat enough in camp 
there was nothing to do except let the deer go. 

When he got back to the river Pepe grinned 
at him, and, pointing to little red specks on 
his shirt, he said: 


"Aha! the ticks!" exclaimed Ken. 

They were exceedingly small, not to be 
seen without close scrutiny. They could not 
be brushed off, so Ken began laboriously to 
pick them off. Pepe and George laughed, 
and Hal appeared to derive some sort of en- 
joyment from the incident. 

"Say, these ticks don't bother me any," de- 
clared Ken. 

Pepe grunted; and George called out, "Just 
wait till you get the big fellows the gar- 
rapatoes." N 

It developed presently that the grass and 
bushes on the camp-site contained millions 
of the ticks. Ken found several of the larger 
ticks almost the size of his little finger-nail 
but he did not get bitten. Pepe and George, 
however, had no such good luck, as was mani- 
fested at different times. By the time they 
had cut down the bushes and carried in 
a stock of fire-wood, both were covered with 
the little pests. Hal found a spot where 
there appeared to be none, and here he stayed. 



Pepe and George had the bad habit of smok- 
ing, and Ken saw them burning the ticks off 
shirt-sleeves and trousers-legs, using the fiery 
end of their cigarettes. This feat did not 
puzzle Ken anything like the one where they 
held the red point of the cigarettes close to 
their naked flesh. Ken, and Hal, too, had 
to see that performance at close range. 

"Why do you do that?" asked Ken. 

"Popping ticks," replied George. He and 
Pepe were as sober as judges. 

The fact of the matter was soon clear to 
Ken. The ticks stuck on as if glued. When 
the hot end of the burning cigarette was held 
within a quarter of an inch of them they 
simply blew up, exploded with a pop. Ken 
could easily distinguish between the tiny pop 
of an exploding pinilius and the heavier pop 
of a garrapato. 

"But, boy, while you're taking time to do 
that, half a dozen other ticks can bite you!" 
exclaimed Ken. 

"Sure they can," replied George. "But 
if they get on me 111 kill 'em. I don't- mind 
the little ones it's the big boys I hate." 

On the other hand, Pete seemed to mind 
most the pinilius. 

"Say, from now on you fellows will be 
Garrapato George and Pinilius Pepe." 



"Pretty soon you'll laugh on the other 
side of your face," said George. "In three 
days you'll be popping ticks yourself." 

Just then Hal let out a yell and began to 
hunt for a tick that had bit him. If there 
was anything that could bother Hal Ward 
it was a crawling bug of some kind. 

"I'll have to christen you too, brother," 
said Ken, gurgling with mirth. "A very 
felicitous name Hollering Hal!" 

Despite the humor of the thing, Ken really 
saw its serious side. When he found the 
grass under his feet alive with ticks he cast 
about in his mind for some way to get rid 
of them. And he hit upon a remedy. On the 
ridge above the bench was a palm-tree, and 
under it were many dead palm leaves. These 
were large in size, had long stems, and were 
as dry as tinder. Ken lighted one, and it 
made a flaming hot torch. It did not take 
him long to scorch all the ticks near that 

The boys had supper and enjoyed it hugely. 
The scene went well with the camp-fire and 
game-dinner. They gazed out over the foam- 
ing pool, the brawling rapids, to the tuft- 
ed palm-trees, and above them the dark- 
blue mountain. At dusk Hal and George 
were so tired they went to bed and at once 



dropped into slumber. Pepe sat smoking 
before the slumbering fire. 

And Ken chose that quiet hour to begin 
the map of the river, and to set down in his 
note-book his observations on the mountains 
and in the valley, and what he had seen that 
day of bird, animal, and plant life in the 



SOME time in the night a yell awakened 
Ken. He sat up, clutching his revolver. 
The white moonlight made all as clear as 
day. Hal lay deep in slumber. George was 
raising himself, half aroused. But Pepe was 

Ken heard a thrashing about outside. 
Leaping up he ran out, and was frightened to 
see Pepe beating and clawing and tearing 
at himself like a man possessed of demons. 

"Pepe, what's wrong?" shouted Ken. 

It seemed that Pepe only grew more violent 
in his wrestling about. Then Ken was sure 
Pepe had been stung by a scorpion or bitten by 
a snake. 

But he was dumfounded to see George 
bound like an apparition out of the tent and 
begin evolutions that made Pepe's look slow. 

"Hey, what's wrong with you jumping- 
jacks?" yelled Ken. 

George was as grimly silent as an Indian 


running the gantlet, but Ken thought it 
doubtful if any Indian ever slapped and tore 
at his body in George's frantic manner. To 
add to the mystery Hal suddenly popped out 
of the tent. He was yelling in a way to do 
justice to the name Ken had lately given him, 
and, as for wild and whirling antics, his were 
simply marvelous. 

"Good land!" ejaculated Ken. Had the 
boys all gone mad? Despite his alarm, Ken 
had to roar with laughter at those three 
dancing figures in the moonlight. A rush of 
ideas went through Ken's confused mind. 
And the last prompted him to look in the 

He saw a wide bar of black crossing the 
moonlit ground, the grass, and the blankets. 
This bar moved. It was alive. Bending 
low Ken descried that it was made by ants. 
An army of jungle ants on a march! They 
had come in a straight line along the base of 
the little hill and their passageway led under 
the canvas. Pepe happened to be the first 
in line, and they had surged over him. As 
he had awakened, and jumped up of course, 
the ants had begun to bite. The same in 
turn happened to George and then Hal. 

Ken was immensely relieved, and had his 
laugh out. The stream of ants moved stead- 



ily and quite rapidly, and soon passed from 
sight. By this time Pepe and the boys had 
threshed themselves free of ants and into 
some degree of composure. 

"Say, you nightmare fellows! Come back 
to bed," said Ken. "Any one would think 
something had really happened to you." 

Pepe snorted, which made Ken think the 
native understood something of English. And 
the boys grumbled loudly. 

"Ants! Aiits as big as wasps! They bit 
worse than helgramites," declared Hal. "Oh, 
they missed you. You always are lucky. 
I'm not afraid of all the old jaguars in this 
jungle. But I can't stand biting, crawling 
bugs. I wish you hadn't made me come on 
this darn trip." 

"Ha! Ha!" laughed Ken. 

"Just wait, Hal," put in George, grimly. 
"Just wait. It's coming to him!" 

The boys slept well the remainder of the 
night and, owing to the break in their rest, 
did not awaken early. The sun shone hot 
when Ken rolled out; a creamy mist was 
dissolving over the curve of the mountain - 
range; parrots were screeching in the near-by 

After breakfast Ken set about packing the 
boat as it had been done the day before. 

6 71 


"I think we'll do well to leave the trunk 
in the boat after this, unless we find a place 
where we want to make a permanent camp 
for a while," said Ken. 

Before departing he carefully looked over 
the ground to see that nothing was left, and 
espied a heavy fish-line which George had 
baited, set, and forgotten. 

"Hey, George, pull up your trot-line. 
It looks pretty much stretched to me. Maybe 
you've got a fish." 

Ken happened to be busy at the boat when 
George started to take in the line. An ex- 
clamation from Pepe, George's yell, and a loud 
splash made Ken jump up in double-quick 
time. Hal also came running. 

George was staggering on the bank, leaning 
back hard on the heavy line. A long, angry 
swirl in the pool told of a powerful fish. 
It was likely to pull George in. 

"Let go the line!" yelled Ken. 

But George was not letting go of any fish- 
lines. He yelled for Pepe, and went down 
on his knees before Pepe got to him. Both 
then pulled on the line. The fish, or what- 
ever it was at the other end, gave a mighty 
jerk that almost dragged the two off the bank. 

"Play him, play him!" shouted Ken. 
"You've got plenty of line. Give him some." 



Hal now added his weight and strength, 
and the three of them, unmindful of Ken's 
advice, hauled back with might and main. 
The line parted and they sprawled on the 

"What a sockdologer!" exclaimed Hal. 

"I had that hook baited with a big piece 
of duck meat," said George. "We must have 
been hooked to a crocodile. Things are hap- 
pening to us." 

"Yes, so I've noticed," replied Ken, dryly. 
"But if you fellows hadn't pulled so hard you 
might have landed that thing, whatever it 
was. All aboard now. We must be on the 
move we don't know what we have before 

When they got into the boat Ken took the 
oars, much to Pepe's surprise. It was neces- 
sary to explain to him that Ken would handle 
the boat in swift water. They shoved off, 
and Ken sent one regretful glance up the river, 
at the shady aisle between the green banks, at 
the white rapids, and the great colored dome 
of the mountain. He almost hesitated, for 
he desired to see more of that jungle-covered 
mountain. But something already warned 
Ken to lose no time in the trip down the Santa 
Rosa. There did not seem to be any reason 
for hurry, yet he felt it necessary. But he 



asked Pepe many questions and kept George 
busy interpreting names of trees and flowers 
and wild creatures. 

Going down-stream on any river, mostly, 
would have been pleasure, but drifting on the 
swift current of the Santa Rosa and rowing 
under the wonderful moss-bearded cypresses 
was almost like a dream. It was too beauti- 
ful to seem real. The smooth stretch before 
the first rapid was short, however, and then 
all Ken's attention had to be given to the 
handling of the boat. He saw that George 
and Pepe both expected to get out and wade 
down the rapids as they had waded up. 
He had a surprise in store for them. The 
rapids that he could not shoot would have to 
be pretty bad. 

"You're getting close," shouted George, 

With two sweeps of the oars Ken turned 
the boat stern first down-stream, then dipped 
on the low green incline, and sailed down 
toward the waves. They struck the first wave 
with a shock, and the water flew all over the 
boys. Pepe was tremendously excited; he 
yelled and made wild motions with his hands; 
George looked a little frightened. Hal en- 
joyed it. Whatever the rapid appeared to 
them, it was magnificent to Ken ; and it was 



play to manage the boat in such water. A 
little pull on one oar and then on the other 
kept the stern straight down-stream. The 
channel he could make out a long way ahead. 
He amused himself by watching George and 
Pepe. There were stones in the channel, 
and the water rose angrily abcut them. A 
glance was enough to tell that he could float 
over these without striking. But the boys 
thought they were going to hit every stone, 
and were uneasy all the time. Twice he had 
to work to pass ledges and sunken trees upon 
which the current bore down hard. When 
Ken neared one of these he dipped the oars 
and pulled back to stop or lessen the momen- 
tam; then a stroke turned the boat half 
broadside to the current. That would force 
it to one side, and another stroke would turn 
the boat straight. At the bottom of this 
rapid they encountered a long triangle of 
choppy waves that they bumped and splashed 
over. They came through with nothing wet 
but the raised flap of canvas in the stern. 

Pepe regarded Ken with admiring eyes, 
and called him grande mozo. 

" Shooting rapids is great sport," proclaimed 

They drifted through several little rifts, 
and then stopped at the head of the narrow 



chute that had been such a stumbling-block 
on the way up. Looked at from above, this 
long, narrow channel, with several S curves, 
was a fascinating bit of water for a canoeist. 
It tempted Ken to shoot it even with the boat. 
But he remembered the four-foot waves at 
the bottom, and besides he resented the im- 
portunity of the spirit of daring so early in 
the game. Risk, and perhaps peril, would 
come soon enough. So he decided to walk 
along the shore and float the boat through 
with a rope. 

The thing looked a good deal easier than it 
turned out to be. Half-way through, at the 
narrowest point and most abrupt curve, 
Pepe misunderstood directions and pulled 
hard on the bow-rope, when he should have 
let it slack. 

The boat swung in, nearly smashing Ken 
against the bank, and the sweeping current 
began to swell dangerously near the gunwale. 

"Let go! Let go!" yelled Ken. "George, 
make him let go!" 

But George, who was trying to get the rope 
out of Pepe's muscular hands, suddenly made 
a dive for his rifle. 

"Deer! deer!" he cried, hurriedly throwing 
a shell into the chamber. He shot down- 
stream, and Ken, looking that way, saw several 



deer under the firs on a rocky flat. George 
shot three more times, and the bullets went 
"spinging" into the trees. The deer bounded 
out of sight. 

When Ken turned again, water was roaring 
into the boat. He was being pressed harder 
into the bank, and he saw disaster ahead. 

" Loosen the rope tell him, George," yelled 

Pepe only pulled the harder. 

"Quick, or we're ruined," cried Ken. 

George shouted in Spanish, and Pepe 
promptly dropped the rope in the water. 
That was the worst thing he could have done. 

"Grab the rope!" ordered Ken, wildly. 
"Grab the bow! Don't let it swing out ! Hal!" 

Before either boy could reach it the bow 
swung out into the current. Ken was not 
only helpless, but in a dangerous position. 
He struggled to get out from where the swing- 
ing stern was wedging him into the bank, 
but could not budge. Fearing that all the 
outfit would be lost in the river, he held 
on to the boat and called for some one to 
catch the rope. 

George pushed Pepe head first into the swift 
current. Pepe came up, caught the rope, 
and then went under again. The boat swung 
rou*xi and, now half full of water, got away 



from Ken. It gathered headway. Ken leaped 
out on the ledge and ran along with the boat. 
It careened round the bad curve and shot 
down-stream. Pepe was still under water. 

"He's drowned! He's drowned!" cried 

Hal took a header right off the ledge, came 
up, and swam with a few sharp strokes to the 
drifting boat. He gained the bow, grasped it, 
and then pulled on the rope. 

Ken had a sickening feeling that Pepe might 
be drowned. Suddenly Pepe appeared like 
a brown porpoise. He was touching bottom 
in places and holding back on the rope. 
Then the current rolled him over and over. 
The boat drifted back of a rocky point into 
shallow water. Hal gave a haul that helped 
to swing it out of the dangerous current. 
Then Pepe came up, and he, too, pulled hard. 
Just as Ken plunged in the boat sank in two 
feet of water. Ken's grip, containing camera, 
films, and other perishable goods, was on top, 
and he got it just in time. He threw it out 
on the rocks. Then together the boys lifted 
the boat and hauled the bow well up on the 

"Pretty lucky!" exclaimed Ken, as he 
flopped down. 

"Doggone it!" yelled Hal, suddenly. And 


he dove for the boat, and splashed round 
in the water under his seat, to bring forth a 
very limp and drenched little racoon. 

"Good! he's all right," said Ken. 

Pepe said "Mucho malo," and pointed 
to his shins, which bore several large bumps 
from contact with the rocks in the channel. 

"I should say mucha malo," growled 

He jerked open his grip, and, throwing out 
articles of wet clothing for which he had no 
concern he gazed in dismay at his whole 
store of cigarettes wet by the water. 

"So that's all you care for," said Ken, 
severely. 'Young man, I'll have something 
to say to you presently. All hands now to 
unpack the boat." 

Fortunately nothing had been earned away. 
That part of the supplies which would have 
been affected by water was packed in tin cases, 
and so suffered no damage. The ammunition 
was waterproof, Ken's Parker hammerless 
and his 351 au tomatic rifle were full of water, 
and so were George's guns and Hal's. While 
they took their weapons apart, wiped them, 
and laid them in the sun, Pepe spread out the 
rest of the things and then baled out the boat. 
The sun was so hot that everything dried 
quickly and was not any the worse for the 



wetting. The boys lost scarcely an hour by 
the accident. Before the start Ken took 
George and Pepe to task, and when he finished 
they were both very sober and quiet. 

Ken observed, however, that by the time 
they had run the next rapid they were en- 
joying themselves again. Then came a long 
succession of rapids which Ken shot without 
anything approaching a mishap. When they 
drifted into the level stretch Pepe relieved 
him at the oars. They glided down-stream 
under the drooping bamboo, under the silken 
streamers of silvery moss, under the dark, cool 
bowers of matted vine and blossoming creep- 
ers. And as they passed this time the jungle 
silence awoke to the crack of George's .22 
and the discordant cry of river fowl. Ken's 
guns were both at hand, and the rifle was 
loaded, but he did not use either. He con- 
tented himself with snapping a picture here 
and there and watching the bamboo thickets 
and the mouths of the little dry ravines. 

That ride was again so interesting, so full 
of sound and action and color, that it seemed 
a very short one. The murmur of the water 
on the rocks told Ken that it was time to 
change seats with Pepe. They drifted down 
two short rapids, and then came to the gravelly 
channels between the islands noted on the 
1 80 


way up. The water was shallow down these 
rippling channels; and, fearing they might 
strike a stone, Ken tumbled out over the bow 
and, wading slowly, let the boat down to 
still water again. He was about to get in 
when he espied what he thought was an 
alligator lying along a log near the river. 
He pointed it out to Pepe. 

That worthy yelled gleefully in Mexican, 
and reached for his machete. 

"Iguana!" exclaimed George. "I've heard 
it's good to eat." 

The reptile had a body about four feet long 
and a very long tail. Its color was a steely 
blue-black on top, and it had a blunt, rounded 

Pepe slipped out of the boat and began 
to wade ashore. When the iguana raised 
itself on short, stumpy legs George shot at 
it, and missed, as usual. But he effectually 
frightened the reptile, which started to climb 
the bank with much nimbleness. Pepe began 
to run, brandishing his long machete. George 
plunged into the water in hot pursuit, and then 
Hal yielded to the call of the chase. Pepe 
reached the iguana before it got up the bank, 
aimed a mighty blow with his machete, and 
would surely have cut the reptile in two 
pieces if the blade had not caught on an over- 


hanging branch. Then Pepe fell up the bank 
and barely grasped the tail of the iguana. Pepe 
hauled back, and Pepe was powerful. The 
frantic creature dug its feet in the clay -bank 
and held on for dear life. But Pepe was too 
strong. He jerked the iguana down and 
flung it square upon George, who had begun 
to climb the bank. 

George uttered an awful yell, as if he ex- 
pected to be torn asunder, and rolled down, 
with the reptile on top of him. Ken saw 
that it was as badly frightened as George. 
But Hal did not see this. And he happened 
to have gained a little sand-bar below the 
bank, in which direction the iguana started 
with wonderful celerity. Then Hal made a 
jump that Ken believed was a record. 

Remarkably awkward as that iguana was, 
ne could surely cover ground with his stumpy 
legs. Again he dashed up the bank. Pepe got 
close enough once more, and again he swung 
the machete. The blow cut off a piece of the 
long tail, but the only effect this produced 
was to make the iguana run all the faster. 
It disappeared over the bank, with Pepe 
scrambling close behind. Then followed a 
tremendous crashing in the dry thickets, 
after which the iguana could be heard rat- 
tling and tearing away through the jungle. 



Pepe returned to the boat with the crest- 
fallen boys, and he was much concerned over 
the failure to catch the big lizard, which he 
said made fine eating. 

"What next?" asked George, ruefully, and 
at that the boys all laughed. 

"The fun is we don't have any idea what's 
coming off," said Hal. 

"Boys, if you brave hunters had thought 
to throw a little salt on that lizard's tail you 
might have caught him," added Ken. 

Presently Pepe espied another iguana in 
the forks of a tree, and he rowed ashore. 
This lizard was only a small one, not over two 
feet in length, but he created some excite- 
ment among the boys. George wanted him 
to eat, and Hal wanted the skin for a speci- 
men, and Ken wanted to see what the liz- 
ard looked like close at hand. So they all 
clamored for Pepe to use caution and to be 

When Pepe started up the tree the iguana 
came down on the other side, quick as a 
squirrel. Then they had a race round the 
trunk until Pepe ended it with a well-directed 
blow from his machete. 

Hal began to skin the iguana. 

"Ken, I'm going to have trouble preserving 
specimens in this hot place," he said. 



1 ' Salt and alum will do the trick. Remember 
what old Hiram used to say," replied Ken. 

Shortly after that the boat passed the scene 
of the first camp, and then drifted under the 
railroad bridge. 

Hal and George, and Pepe too, looked as if 
they were occupied with the same thought 
troubling Ken that once beyond the bridge 
they would plunge into the jungle wilderness 
from which there could be no turning 



THE Santa Rosa opened out wide, and ran 
swiftly over smooth rock. Deep cracks, a 
foot or so wide, crossed the river diagonally, 
and fish darted in and out. 

The boys had about half a mile of this, 
when, after turning a hilly bend, they entered 
a long rapid. It was a wonderful stretch 
of river to look down. 

"By George!" said Ken, as he stood up to 
survey it. "This is great!" 

"It's all right now' 1 added George, with 
his peculiar implication as to the future. 

"What gets me is the feeling of what 
might be round the next bend," said Hal. 

This indeed, Ken thought, made the fas- 
cination of such travel. The water was 
swift and smooth and shallow. There was 
scarcely a wave or ripple. At times the boat 
stuck fast on the flat rock, and the boys would 
have to get out to shove off. As far ahead as 
Ken could see extended this wide slant of 



water. On the left rose a thick line of huge 
cypresses all festooned with gray moss that 
drooped to the water; on the right rose a bare 
bluff of crumbling rock. It looked like blue 
clay baked and cracked by the sun. A few 
palms fringed the top. 

"Say, we can beat this," said Ken, as for 
the twentieth time the boys had to step out 
and shove off a flat, shallow place. "Two of 
you in the bow and Pepe with me in the stern, 
feet overboard." 

The little channels ran every way, making 
it necessary often to turn the boat. Ken's 
idea was to drift along and keep the boat 
from grounding by an occasional kick. 

"Ken manages to think of something once 
in a while," observed Hal. 

Then the boat drifted down-stream, whirling 
round and round. Here Pepe would drop 
his brown foot in and kick his end clear of a 
shallow ledge; there George would make a 
great splash when his turn came to ward off 
from a rock; and again Hal would give a 
greater kick than was necessary to the right- 
ing of the boat. Probably Hal was much 
influenced by the fact that when he kicked 
hard he destroyed the lazy equilibrium of 
his companions. 

It dawned upon Ken that here was a new 


and unique way to travel down a river. It 
was different from anything he had ever tried 
before. The water was swift and seldom 
more than a foot deep, except in diagonal 
cracks that ribbed the river-bed. This long, 
shut-in stretch appeared to be endless. But 
for the quick, gliding movement of the boat, 
which made a little breeze, the heat would 
have been intolerable. When one of Hal's 
kicks made Ken lurch overboard to sit down 
ludicrously, the cool water sent thrills over 
him. Instead of retaliating on Hal, he was 
glad to be wet. And the others, soon dis- 
covering the reason for Ken's remarkable 
good-nature, went overboard and lay flat in 
the cool ripples. Then little clouds of steam 
began to rise from their soaked clothes. 

Ken began to have an idea that he had been 
wise in boiling the water which they drank. 
They all suffered from a parching thirst. 
Pepe scooped up water in his hand; George 
did likewise, and then Hal. 

"You've all got to stop that," ordered Ken, 
sharply. "No drinking this water unless it's 

The boys obeyed, for the hour, but they 
scon forgot, or deliberately allayed their 
thirst despite Ken's command. Ken himself 
found his thirst unbearable. He squeezed 

y 8 7 


the juice of a wild lime into a cup of water 
and drank that. Then he insisted on giving 
the boys doses of quinine and anti-malaria 
pills, which treatment he meant to continue 

Toward the lower part of that rapid, where 
the water grew deeper, fish began to be so 
numerous that the boys kicked at many as 
they darted under the boat. There were 
thousands of small fish and some large ones. 
Occasionally, as a big fellow lunged for a 
crack in the rock, he would make the water 
roar. There was a fish that resembled a mullet, 
and another that Hal said was some kind of 
bass with a blue tail. Pepe chopped at them 
with his machete; George whacked with an 
oar; Hal stood up in the boat and shot at 
them with his .22 rifle. 

"Say, I've got to see what that blue- 
tailed bass looks like," said Ken. "You fel- 
lows will never get one." 

Whereupon Ken jointed up a small rod 
and, putting on a spinner, began to cast it 
about. He felt two light fish hit it. Then 
came a heavy shock that momentarily checked 
the boat. The water foamed as the line cut 
through, and Ken was just about to jump off 
the boat to wade and follow the fish, when 
it broke the leader. 



"That was a fine exhibition," remarked the 
critical Hal. 

"What's the matter with you?" retorted 
Ken, who was sensitive as to his fishing 
abilities. "It was a big fish. He broke 

"Haven't you got a reel on that rod and 
fifty yards of line?" queried Hal. 

Ken did not have another spinner, and he 
tried an artificial minnow, but could not get 
a strike on it. He took Hal's gun and shot 
at several of the blue-tailed fish, but though 
he made them jump out of the water like 
a real northern black-bass, it was all of no 

Then Hal caught one with a swoop of the 
landing net. It was a beautiful fish, and it 
did have a blue tail. Pepe could not name 
it, nor could Ken classify it, so Hal was sure 
he had secured a rare specimen. 

When the boat drifted round a bend to 
enter another long, wide, shallow rapid, the 
boys demurred a little at the sameness of 
things. The bare blue bluffs persisted, and 
the line of' gray- veiled cypresses and the 
strange formation of stream-bed. Five more 
miles of drifting under the glaring sun made 
George and Hal lie back in the boat, under 
an improvised sun-shade. The ride was novel 



and strange to Ken Ward, and did not pall 
upon him, though he suffered from the heat 
and glare. He sat on the bow, occasionally 
kicking the boat off a rock. 

All at once a tense whisper from Pepe 
brought Ken round with a jerk. Pepe was 
pointing down along the right-hand shore. 
George heard, and, raising himself, called ex- 
citedly: "Buck! buck!" 

Ken saw a fine deer leap back from the water 
and start to clirnb the side of a gully that in- 
dented the bluff. Snatching up the .351 
rifle, he shoved in the safety catch. The 
distance was far perhaps two hundred yards 
but without elevating the sights he let 
drive. A cloud of dust puffed up under the 
nose of the climbing deer. 

"Wow!" yelled George, and Pepe began to 
jabber. Hal sprang up, nearly falling over- 
board, and he shouted: "Give it to him, 

The deer bounded up a steep, winding trail, 
his white flag standing, his reddish coat 
glistening. Ken fired again. The bullet sent 
up a white puff of dust, this time nearer still. 
That shot gave Ken the range, and he pulled 
the automatic again and again. Each bullet 
hit closer. The boys were now holding their 
breath, watching, waiting. Ken aimed a little 



firmer and finer at the space ahead of the 
deer for in that instant he remembered 
what the old hunter on Penetier had told 
him and he pulled the trigger twice. 

The buck plunged down, slipped off the 
trail, and, raising a cloud of dust, rolled over 
and over. Then it fell sheer into space, 
and whirled down to strike the rock with a 
sodden crash. 

It was Ken's first shooting on this trip, 
and he could not help adding a cry of ex- 
ultation to the yells of his admiring com- 

"Guess you didn't plug him!" exclaimed 
Hal Ward, with flashing eyes. 

Wading, the boys pulled the boat ashore. 
Pepe pronounced the buck to be very large, 
but to Ken, remembering the deer in Coconino 
Forest, it appeared small. If there was an 
unbroken bone left in that deer, Ken greatly 
missed his guess. He and Pepe cut out the 
haunch least crushed by the fall. 

"There's no need to carry along more 
meat than we can use," said George. "It 
spoils overnight. That's the worst of this 
jungle, I've heard hunters say." 

Hal screwed up his face in the manner he 
affected when he tried to imitat/s old Hiram 
Bent. "Wai, youngster, I reckon I'm right 


an* down proud of thet shootin'. You air 
comin' along." 

Ken was as pleased as Hal, but he replied, 
soberly: "Well, kid, I hope I can hold as 
straight as that when we run up against a 

"Do you think we'll see one?" asked Hal. 

"Just you wait!" exclaimed George, reply- 
ing for Ken. "Pepe says we'll have to sleep 
in the boat, and anchor the boat in the 
middle of the river." 

"What for?" 

"To keep those big yellow tigers from eat- 
ing us up." 

"How nice!" replied Hal, with a rather 
forced laugh. 

So, talking and laughing, the boys resumed 
their down-stream journey. Ken, who was 
always watching with sharp eyes, saw buzzards 
appear, as if by magic. Before the boat was 
half a mile down the river buzzards were 
circling over the remains of the deer. These 
birds of prey did not fly from the jungle on 
either side of the stream. They sailed, 
dropped down from the clear blue sky where 
they had been invisible. How wonderful 
that was to Ken ! Nature had endowed these 
vulture-like birds with wonderful scent or 
instinct or sight, or all combined. But Ken 



believed that it was power of sight which 
brought the buzzards so quickly to the scene 
of the killing. He watched them circling, 
sweeping down till a curve in the river hid 
them from view. 

And with this bend came a welcome change. 
The bluff played out in a rocky slope below 
which the green jungle was relief to aching 
eyes. As the boys made this point, the 
evening breeze began to blow. They beached 
the boat and unloaded to make camp. 

"We haven't had any work to-day, but 
we're all tired just the same," observed Ken. 

"The heat makes a fellow tired," said 

They were fortunate in finding a grassy 
plot where there appeared to be but few 
ticks and other creeping things. That even- 
ing it was a little surprise to Ken to realize 
how sensitive he had begun to feel about 
these jungle vermin. 

Pepe went up the bank for fire-wood. Ken 
heard him slashing away with his machete. 
Then this sound ceased, and Pepe yelled in 
fright. Ken and George caught up guns as 
they bounded into the thicket; Hal started 
to follow, likewise armed. Ken led the way 
through a thorny brake to come sudden- 
ly upon Pepe. At the same instant Ken 



caught a glimpse of gray, black-striped forms 
slipping away in the jungle. Pepe shouted 
out something. 

"Tiger-cats!" exclaimed George. 

Ken held up his ringer to enjoin silence. 
With that he stole cautiously forward, the 
others noiselessly at his heels. The thicket 
was lined with well-beaten trails, and by 
following these and stooping low it was 
possible to go ahead without rustling the 
brush. Owing to the gathering twilight Ken 
could not see very far. When he stopped to 
listen he heard the faint crackling of dead 
brush and soft, quick steps. He had not pro- 
ceeded far when pattering footsteps halted 
him. Ken dropped to his knee. The boys 
knelt behind him, and Pepe whispered. Peer- 
ing along the trail Ken saw what he took for 
a wildcat. Its boldness amazed him. Surely 
it had heard him, but instead of bounding 
into the thicket it crouched not more than 
twenty-five feet away. Ken took a quick 
shot at the gray huddled form. It jerked, 
stretched out, and lay still. Then a crashing 
in the brush, and gray streaks down the trail 
told Ken of more game. 

"There they go. Peg away at them," 
called Ken. 

George and Hal burned a good deal of 



powder and sent much lead whistling through 
the dry branches, but the gray forms vanished 
in the jungle. 

"We got one, anyway," said Ken. 

He advanced to find his quarry quite dead. 
It was bigger than any wildcat Ken had 
ever seen. The color was a grayish yellow, 
almost white, lined and spotted with black. 
Ken lifted it and found it heavy enough to 
make a good load. 

"He's a beauty," said Hal. 

"Pepe says it's a tiger-cat," remarked 
George. "There are two or three kinds 
besides the big tiger. We may run into a 
lot of them and get some skins." 

It was almost dark when they reached 
camp. While Pepe and Hal skinned the tiger- 
cat and stretched the pelt over a framework 
of sticks the other boys got supper. They 
were all very hungry and tired, and pleased 
with the events of the day. As they sat 
round the camp-fire there was a constant 
whirring of water-fowl over their heads and 
an incessant hum of insects from the jungle. 

"Ken, does it feel as wild to you here as on 
Buckskin Mountain?" asked Hal. 

"Oh yes, much wilder, Hal," replied his 
brother. "And it's different, somehow. Out 
in Arizona there was always the glorious 



expectancy of to-morrow's fun or sport. Here 
I have a kind of worry a feeling " 

But he concluded it wiser to keep to him- 
self that strange feeling of dread which came 
over him at odd moments. 

"It suits me," said Hal. "I want to get 
a lot of things and keep them alive. Of course, 
I want specimens. I'd like some skins for 
my den, too. But I don't care so much 
about killing things." 

"Just wait!" retorted George, who evident- 
ly took Hal's remark as a reflection upon his 
weakness. "Just wait! You'll be shooting 
pretty soon for your life." 

"Now, George, what do you mean by 
that?" questioned Ken, determined to pin 
George down to facts. "You said you didn't 
really know anything about this jungle. 
Why are you always predicting disaster for 

"Why? Because I've heard things about 
the jungle," retorted, George. "And Pepe 
says wait till we get down off the mountain. 
He doesn't know anything, either. But it's 
his instinct Pepe's half Indian. So I say, 
too, wait till we get down in the jungle!" 

"Confound you! Where are we now?" 
queried Ken. 

"The real jungle is the lowland. There 


we'll find the tigers and the crocodiles and the 
wild cattle and wild pigs." 

"Bring on your old pigs and things," re- 
plied Hal. 

But Ken looked into the glowing embers 
of the camp-fire and was silent. When he 
got out his note-book and began his drawing, 
he forgot the worry and dread in the interest 
of his task. He was astonished at his memory, 
to see how he could remember every turn in 
the river and yet not lose his sense of direc- 
tion. He could tell almost perfectly the dis- 
tance traveled, because he knew so well just 
how much a boat would cover in swift or 
slow waters in a given time. He thought he 
could give a fairly correct estimate of the 
drop of the river. And, as for descriptions 
of the jungle life along the shores, that was a 
delight, all except trying to understand and 
remember and spell the names given to him 
by Pepe. Ken imagined Pepe spoke a mix- 
ture of Toltec, Aztec, Indian, Spanish, and 



UPON awakening next morning Ken found 
the sun an hour high. He was stiff and 
sore and thirsty. Pepe and the boys slept 
so soundly it seemed selfish to wake them. 

All around camp there was a melodious 
concourse of birds. But the parrots did not 
make a visit that morning. While Ken was 
washing in the river a troop of deer came down 
to the bar on the opposite side. Ken ran for 
his rifle, and by mistake took up George's 
.32. He had a splendid shot at less than one 
hundred yards. But the bullet dropped fif- 
teen feet in front of the leading buck. The 
deer ran into the deep, bushy willows. 

"That gun's leaded," muttered Ken. "It 
didn't shoot where I aimed." 

Pepe jumped up; George rolled out of his 
blanket with one eye still glued shut; and 
Hal stretched and yawned and groaned. 

"Do I have to get up?" he asked. 

"Shore, lad," said Ken, mimicking Jim Wil- 


Hams, "or I'll hev to be reconsiderin' that idee 
of mine about you bein' pards with me." 

Such mention of Hal's ranger friend brought 
the boy out of his lazy bed with amusing 

"Rustle breakfast, now, you fellows," said 
Ken, and, taking his rifle, he started off to 
climb the high river bluff. 

It was his idea to establish firmly in mind 
the trend of the mountain-range, and the 
relation of the river to it. The difficulty 
in mapping the river would come after it 
left the mountains to wind away into the 
wide lowlands. The matter of climbing the 
bluff would have been easy but for the fact 
that he wished to avoid contact with grass, 
brush, trees, even dead branches, as all were 
covered with ticks. The upper half of the 
bluff was bare, and when he reached that part 
he soon surmounted it. Ken faced south 
with something of eagerness. Fortunately 
the mist had dissolved under the warm rays 
of the sun, affording an unobstructed view. 
That scene was wild and haunting, yet dif- 
ferent from what his fancy had pictured. The 
great expanse of jungle was gray, the green 
line of cypress, palm, and bamboo following 
the southward course of the river. The 
mountain-range some ten miles distant sloped 



to the south and faded away in the haze. 
The river disappeared in rich dark verdure, 
and but for it, which afforded a water-road 
back to civilization, Ken would have been 
lost in a dense gray-green overgrowth of 
tropical wilderness. Once or twice he thought 
he caught the faint roar of a waterfall on the 
morning breeze, yet could not be sure, and he 
returned toward camp with a sober appre- 
ciation of the difficulty of his enterprise 
and a more thrilling sense of its hazard and 

"Didn't see anything to peg at, eh?" 
greeted Hal. "Well, get your teeth in some 
of this venison before it's all gone." 

Soon they were under way again, Pepe 
strong and willing at the oars. This time 
Ken had his rifle and shotgun close at hand, 
ready for use. Half a mile below, the river, 
running still and deep, entered a shaded water- 
way so narrow that in places the branches 
of wide-spreading and leaning cypresses met 
and intertwined their moss-fringed foliage. 
This lane was a paradise for birds, that ranged 
from huge speckled cranes, six feet high, to 
little yellow birds almost too small to see. 

Black squirrels were numerous and very 
tame. In fact, all the creatures along this 
shaded stream were so fearless that it was 



easy to see they had never heard a shot. 
Ken awoke sleepy cranes with his fishing- 
rod and once pushed a blue heron off a log. 
He heard animals of some species running 
back from the bank, but could not see them. 

All at once a soft breeze coming up-stream 
bore a deep roar of tumbling rapids. The 
sensation of dread which had bothered Ken 
occasionally now returned and fixed itself in 
his mind. He was in the jungle of Mexico, 
and knew not what lay ahead of him. But if 
he had been in the wilds of unexplored 
Brazil and had heard that roar, it would have 
been familiar to him. In his canoe experience 
on the swift streams of Pennsylvania Ken Ward 
had learned, long before he came to rapids, 
to judge what they were from the sound. 
His attention wandered from the beautiful 
birds, the moss-shaded bowers, and the over- 
hanging jungle. He listened to the heavy, 
sullen roar of the rapids. 

"That water sounds different," remarked 

"Grande," said Pepe, with a smile. 

"Pretty heavy, Ken, eh?" asked Hal, 
looking quickly at his brother. 

But Ken Ward made his face a mask, and 
betrayed nothing of the grim nature of his 
thought. Pepe and the boys had little idea 



of danger, and they had now a blind faith in 

"I dare say we'll get used to that roar," re- 
plied Ken, easily, and he began to pack his 
guns away in their cases. 

Hal forgot his momentary anxiety; Pepe 
rowed on, leisurely; and George lounged in his 
seat. There was no menace for them in that 
dull, continuous roar. 

But Ken knew they would soon be in fast 
water and before long would drop down into 
the real wilderness. It was not now too late 
to go back up the river, but soon that would 
be impossible. Keeping a sharp lookout 
ahead, Ken revolved in mind the necessity 
for caution and skilful handling of the boat. 
But he realized, too, that overzealousness on 
the side of caution was a worse thing for such 
a trip than sheer recklessness. Good judg- 
ment in looking over rapids, a quick eye to 
pick the best channel, then a daring spirit 
that was the ideal to be striven for in going 
down swift rivers. 

Presently Ken saw a break in the level 
surface of the water. He took Pepe's place 
at the oars, and, as usual, turned the boat 
stern first down-stream. The banks were low 
and shelved out in rocky points. This re- 
lieved Ken, for he saw that he could land just 



above the falls. What he feared was a nar- 
row gorge impossible to portage round or go 
through. As the boat approached the break 
the roar seemed to divide itself, hollow and 
shallow near at hand, rushing and heavy 
farther on. 

Ken rowed close to the bank and landed on 
the first strip of rock. He got out and, walk- 
ing along this ledge, soon reached the fall. 
It was a straight drop of some twelve or fifteen 
feet. The water was shallow all the way across. 

"Boys, this is easy," said Ken. "We'll 
pack the outfit round the fall, and slide the 
boat over." 

But Ken did not say anything about the 
white water extending below the fall as far 
as he could see. From here came the sullen 
roar that had worried him. 

Portaging the supplies around that place 
turned out to be far from easy. The portage 
was not long nor rugged, but the cracked, 
water-worn rock made going very difficult. 
The boys often stumbled. Pepe fell and 
broke open a box, and almost broke his leg. 
Ken had a hard knock. Then, when it came 
to carrying the trunk, one at each corner, 
progress was laborious and annoying. Full 
two hours were lost in transporting the out- 
fit around the fall. 

8 IOJ , 


Below there was a wide, shelving apron, 
over which the water ran a foot or so in depth. 
Ken stationed Pepe and the boys there, and 
went up to get the boat. He waded out with 
it. Ken saw that his end of this business was 
going to be simple enough, but he had doubts 
as to what would happen to the boys. 

' ' Brace yourselves, now, ' ' he yelled. ' ' When 
I drop her over she'll come a-humming. 
Hang on if she drags you a mile!" 

Wading out deeper Ken let the boat swing 
down with the current till the stern projected 
over the fall. He had trouble in keeping 
his footing, for the rock was slippery. Then 
with a yell he ran the stern far out over the 
drop, bore down hard on the bow, and 
shoved off. 

The boat shot out and down, to alight with 
a heavy souse. Then it leaped into the swift 
current. George got his hands on it first, 
and went down like a ninepin. The boat 
floated over him. The bow struck Hal, and 
would have dragged him away had not Pepe 
laid powerful hands on the stern. They waded 
to the lower ledge. 

"Didn't ship a bucketful," said Hal. 
"Fine work, Ken." 

"I got all the water," added the drenched 
and dripping George. 



"Bail out, boys, and repack, while I look 
below," said Ken. 

He went down-stream a little way to take 
a survey of the rapids. If those rapids had 
been back in Pennsylvania, Ken felt that he 
could have gone at them in delight. If the 
jungle country had been such that damage to 
boat or supplies could have been remedied or 
replaced, these rapids would not have appeared 
so bad. Ken walked up and down looking 
over the long white inclines more than was 
wise, and he hesitated about going into them. 
But it had to be done. So he went back to 
the boys. Then he took the oars with grip- 
ping fingers. 

" George, can you swim?" he asked. 

"I'm a second cousin to a fish," replied 

"All right. We're off. Now, if we upset, 
hang to the boat, if you can, and hold up 
your legs. George, tell Pepe." 

Ken backed the boat out from the shore. 
To his right in the middle of the narrow river 
was a racy current that he kept out of as long 
as possible. But presently he was drawn 
into it, and the boat shot forward, headed 
into the first incline, and went racing smoothly 
down toward the white waves of the rapids. 

This was a trying moment for Ken. Grip 


as hard as he might, the oar-handles slipped 
in his sweaty hands. 

The boys were yelling, but Ken could not 
hear for the din of roaring waters. The boat 
sailed down with swift, gliding motion. When 
it thumped into the back-lash of the first 
big waves the water threshed around and over 
the boys. Then they were in the thick of 
rush and roar. Ken knew he w r as not hand- 
ling the boat well. It grazed stones that 
should have been easy to avoid, and bumped 
on hidden ones, and got half broadside to 
the current. Pepe, by quick action with an 
oar, pushed the stern aside from collision with 
more than one rock. Several times Ken 
missed a stroke when a powerful one was 
needed. He passed between stones so close 
together that he had to ship the oars. It was 
all rapid water, this stretch, but the bad 
places, with sunken rocks, falls, and big waves, 
were strung out at such distances apart that 
Ken had time to get the boat going right 
before entering them. 

Ken saw scarcely anything of the banks 
of the river. They blurred in his sight. 
Sometimes they were near, sometimes far. 
The boat turned corners where rocky ledges 
pointed out, constricting the stream and mak^ 
ing a curved channel. What lay around the 

1 06 


curve was always a question and a cause for 
suspense. Often the boat raced down a 
chute and straight toward a rocky wall. 
Ken would pull back with all his might, and 
Pepe would break the shock by striking the 
wall with his oar. 

More than once Pepe had a narrow escape 
from being knocked overboard. George tried 
to keep him from standing up. Finally at 
the end of a long rapid, Pepe, who had the 
stern-seat, jumped up and yelled. Ken saw 
a stone directly in the path of the boat, and 
he pulled back on the oars with a quick, 
strong jerk. Pepe shot out of the stern as 
if he had been flung from a catapult. He 
swam with the current while the boat drifted. 
He reached smooth water and the shore 
before Ken could pick him up. 

It was fun for everybody but Ken. There 
were three inches of water in the boat. The 
canvas, however, had been arranged to pro- 
tect guns, grips, and supplies. George had 
been wet before he entered the rapids, so a 
little additional water did not matter to him. 
Hal was almost as wet as Pepe. 

"I'm glad that's past," said Ken. 

With that long rapid behind him he felt 
different. It was what he had needed. His 
nervousness disappeared and he had no dread 



of the next fall. While the boys bailed out 
the boat Ken rested and thought. He had 
made mistakes in that rapid just passed. 
Luck had favored him. He went over the 
mistakes and_saw where he had been wrong, 
and how he could have avoided them if he 
had felt right. Ken realized now that this 
was a daredevil trip. And the daredevil 
in him had been shut up in dread. It took 
just that nervous dread, and the hard work, 
blunders and accidents, the danger and luck, 
to liberate the spirit that would make the 
trip a success. Pepe and George were loud 
in their praises of Ken. But they did not 
appreciate the real hazard of the undertaking, 
and if Hal did he was too much of a wild 
boy to care. 

"All aboard," called George. 

Then they were on their way again. Ken 
found Irmself listening for rapids. It was no 
surprise to hear a dull roar round the next 
bend. His hair rose stiffly under his hat. 
But this time he did not feel the chill, the un- 
certainty, the lack of confidence that had 
before weakened him. 

At the head of a long, shallow incline the 
boys tumbled overboard, Ken and Hal at 
the bow, Pepe and George at the stern. 
They waded with the bow up-stream. The 



water tore around their legs, rising higher 
and higher. Soon Pepe and George had to 
climb in the boat, for the water became so 
deep and swift they could not wade. 

"Jump in, Hal," called Ken. 

Then he held to the bow an instant longer, 
wading a little farther down. This was 
ticklish business, and all depended upon 
Ken. He got the stern of the boat straight 
in line with the channel he wanted to run, 
then he leaped aboard and made for the oars. 
The boat sped down. At the bottom of this 
incline was a mass of leaping green and white 
waves. The blunt stern of the boat made a 
great splash and the water flew over the boys. 
They came through the roar and hiss and spray 
to glide into a mill-race current. 

"Never saw such swift water!" exclaimed 

This incline ended in a sullen plunge be- 
tween two huge rocks. Ken saw the danger 
long before it became evident to his compan- 
ions. There was no other way to shoot the 
rapid. He could not reach the shore. He 
must pass between the rocks. Ken pushed 
on one oar, then on the other, till he got the 
boat in line, and then he pushed with both 
oars. The boat flew down that incline. It 
went so swiftly that if it had hit one of the 



rocks it would have been smashed to kindling 
wood. Hal crouched low. George's face was 
white. And Pepe leaned forward with his big 
arms outstretched, ready to try to prevent a 

Down! down with the speed of the wind! 
The boat flashed between the black stones. 
Then it was raised aloft, light as a feather, to 
crash into the back-lashers. The din deafened 
Ken ; the spray blinded him. The boat seemed 
to split a white pall of water, then, with many 
a bounce, drifted out of that rapid into little 
choppy waves, and from them into another 
long, smooth runway. 

Ken rested, and had nothing to say. Pepe 
shook his black head. Hal looked at his 
brother. George had forgotten his rifle. No 
one spoke. 

Soon Ken had more work on hand. For 
round another corner lay more fast water. 
The boat dipped on a low fall, and went down 
into the midst of green waves with here and 
there ugly rocks splitting the current. The 
stream-bed was continually new and strange 
to Ken, and he had never seen such queer for- 
mation of rocks. This rapid, however, was 
easy to navigate. A slanting channel of swift 
water connected it with another rapid. Ken 
backed into that one, passed through, only 



to face another. And so it went for a long 
succession of shallow rapids. 

A turn in the winding lane of cypresses 
revealed walls of gray, between which the 
river disappeared. 

"Aha!" muttered Ken. 

"Ken, I'll bet this is the place you've been 
looking for," said Hal. 

The absence of any roar of water em- 
boldened Ken. Nearing the head of the 
ravine, he stood upon the seat and looked 
ahead. But Ken could not see many rods 
ahead. The ravine turned, and it was the 
deceiving turns in the river that he had 
feared. What a strange sensation Ken had 
when he backed the boat into the mouth of 
that gorge! He was forced against his will. 
Yet there seemed to be a kind of blood- 
tingling pleasure in the prospect. 

The current caught the boat and drew 
it between the gray-green walls of rock. 

"It's coming to us," said the doubtful 

The current ran all of six miles an hour. 
This was not half as fast as the boys had 
traveled in rapids, but it appeared swift 
enough because of the nearness of the over- 
shadowing walls. In the shade the water 
took on a different coloring. It was brown 



and oily. It slid along silently. It was 
deep, and the swirling current suggested 
power. Here and there long, creeping ferns 
covered the steep stone sides, and above ran 
a stream of blue sky fringed by leaning palms. 
Once Hal put his hands to his lips and yelled: 
"Hel-lo!" The yell seemed to rip the silence 
and began to clap from wall to wall. It 
gathered quickness until it clapped in one 
fiendish rattle. Then it wound away from 
the passage, growing fainter and fainter, and 
at last died in a hollow echo. 

"Don't do that again," ordered Ken. 

He began to wish he could see the end of 
that gorge. But it grew narrower, and the 
shade changed to twilight, and there were 
no long, straight stretches. The river kept 
turning corners. Quick to note the sl'ght- 
est change in conditions, Ken felt a breeze, 
merely a zephyr, fan his hot face. The cur- 
rent had almost imperceptibly quickened. 
Yet it was still silent. Then on the gentle 
wind came a low murmur. Ken's pulse 
beat fast. Turning his ear down-stream, he 
strained his hearing. The low murmur ceased. 
Perhaps he had imagined it. Still he kept 
listening. There! Again it came, low, far 
away, strange. It might have been the wind 
in the palms. But no, he could not possibly 



persuade himself it was wind. And as that 
faint breeze stopped he lost the sound once 
more. The river was silent, and the boat, 
and the boys it was a silent ride. Ken 
divined that his companions were enraptured. 
But this ride had no beauty, no charm for 

There! Another faint puff of wind, and 
again the low murmur! He fancied it was 
louder. He was beginning to feel an icy 
dread when all was still once more. So the 
boat drifted swiftly on with never a gurgle 
of water about her gunwales. The river 
gleamed in brown shadows. Ken saw bub- 
bles rise and break on the surface, and there 
was a slight rise or swell of the water toward 
the center of the channel. This bothered him. 
He could not understand it. But then there 
had been many other queer formations of 
rock and freaks of current along this river. 

The boat glided on and turned another 
corner, the sharpest one yet. A long, shadowy 
water-lane, walled in to the very skies, opened 
up to Ken's keen gaze. The water here 
began to race onward, still wonderfully silent. 
And now the breeze carried a low roar. It 
was changeable yet persistent. It deepened. 

Once more Ken felt his hair rise under 
his hat. Cold sweat wet his skin. Despite 


the pounding of his heart and the throb of 
his veins, his blood seemed to clog, to freeze, 
to stand still. 

That roar was the roar of rapids. Im- 
possible to go back! If there had been four 
sets of oars, Ken and his comrades could not 
row the heavy boat back up that swift, 
sliding river. 

They must go on. 



"l/'EN, old man, do you hear that?" ques- 
fx tioned Hal, waking from his trance. 

George likewise rose out of his lazy con- 
tentment. "Must be rapids," he muttered. 
"If we strike rapids in this gorge it's all day 
with us. What did I tell you!" 

Pepe's dark, searching eyes rested on Ken. 

But Ken had no word for any of them. 
He was fighting an icy numbness, and the 
weakness of muscle and the whirl of his 
mind. It was thought of responsibility that 
saved him from collapse. 

"It's up to you, old man," said Hal, 

In a moment like this the boy could not 
wholly be deceived. 

Ken got a grip upon himself. He looked 
down the long, narrow lane of glancing water. 
Some hundred yards on, it made another turn 
round a corner, and from this dim curve came 
the roar. The current was hurrying the boat 



toward it, but not fast enough to suit Ken. 
He wanted to see the worst, to get into the 
thick of it, to overcome it. So he helped the 
boat along. A few moments sufficed to cover 
that gliding stretch of river, yet to Ken it 
seemed never to have an end. The roar 
steadily increased. The current became still 
stronger. Ken saw eruptions of water rising 
as from an explosion beneath the surface. 
Whirlpools raced along with the boat. The 
dim, high walls re-echoed the roaring of the 

The first thing Ken saw when he sailed 
round that corner was a widening of the chasm 
and bright sunlight ahead. Perhaps an eighth 
of a mile below the steep walls ended abruptly. 
Next in quick glance he saw a narrow channel 
of leaping, tossing, curling white-crested waves 
under sunlighted mist and spray. 

Pulling powerfully back and to the left 
Ken brought the boat alongside the cliff. 
Then he shipped his oars. 

"Hold hard," he yelled, and he grasped the 
stone. The boys complied, and thus stopped 
the boat. Ken stood up on the seat. It was 
a bad place he looked down into, but he could 
not see any rocks. And rocks were what he 
feared most. 

"Hold tight, boys," he said. Then he 


got Pepe to come to him and sit on the seat. 
Ken stepped up on Pepe's shoulders and, by 
holding to the rock, was able to get a good 
view of the rapid. It was not a rapid at all, 
but a constriction of the channel, and also a 
steep slant. The water rushed down so swiftly 
to get through that it swelled in the center 
in a long frothy ridge of waves. The water 
was deep. Ken could not see any bumps or 
splits or white-wreathed rocks, such as were 
conspicuous in a rapid. The peril here for 
Ken was to let the boat hit the wall or turn 
broadside or get out of that long swelling 

He stepped down and turned to the white- 
faced boys. He had to yell close to them to 
make them hear him in the roar. 

"I can run this place. But you've 
got to help. Pull the canvas up higher 
in the stern and hold it." 

Then he directed Pepe to kneel in the 
bow of the boat with an oar and be ready to 
push off from the walls. 

If Ken had looked again or hesitated a 
moment he would have lost his nerve. He 
recognized that fact. And he shoved off 
instantly. Once the boat had begun to 
glide down, gathering momentum, he felt 
his teeth grind hard and his muscles grow 



tense. He had to bend his head from side to 
side to see beyond the canvas George and Hal 
were holding round their shoulders. He be- 
lieved with that acting as a buffer in the stern 
he could go pounding through those waves. 
Then he was in the middle of the channel, 
and the boat fairly sailed along. Ken kept 
his oars poised, ready to drop either one for 
a stroke. All he wanted was to enter those 
foaming, tumultuous waves with his boat 
pointed right. He knew he could not hope 
to see anything low down after he entered 
the race. He calculated that the last instant 
would give him an opportunity to get his 
direction in line with some object. 

Then, even as he planned it, the boat dipped 
on a beautiful glassy incline, and glided down 
toward the engulfing, roaring waves. Above 
them, just in the center, Ken caught sight of 
the tufted top of a palm-tree. That was his 
landmark ! 

The boat shot into a great, curling, back- 
lashing wave. There was a heavy shock, a 
pause, and then Ken felt himself lifted high, 
while a huge sheet of water rose fan-shape 
behind the buffer in the stern. Walls and 
sky and tree faded under a watery curtain. 
Then the boat shot on again; the light came, 
the sky shone, and Ken saw his palm-tree. 



He pulled hard on the right oar to get the 
stern back in line. Another heavy shock, 
a pause, a blinding shower of water, and then 
the downward rush! Ken got a fleeting 
glimpse of his guiding mark, and sunk the left 
oar deep for a strong stroke. The beating 
of the waves upon the upraised oars almost 
threw him out of the boat. The wrestling 
waters hissed and bellowed. Down the boat 
shot and up, to pound and pound, and then 
again shoot down. Through the pall of mist 
and spray Ken always got a glimpse, quick as 
lightning, of the palm-tree, and like a demon 
he plunged in his oars to keep the boat in 
line. He was only dimly conscious of the 
awfulness of the place. But he was not 
afraid. He felt his action as being inspirited 
by something grim and determined. He was 
fighting the river. 

All at once a grating jar behind told him 
the bow had hit a stone or a wall. He did 
not dare look back. The most fleeting in- 
stant of time might be the one for him to 
see his guiding mark. Then the boat lurched 
under him, lifted high with bow up, and 
lightened. He knew Pepe had been pitched 

; In spite of the horror of the moment, Ken 
realized that the lightening of the boat made 

9 "9 


it more buoyant, easier to handle. That 
weight in the bow had given him an un- 
balanced craft. But now one stroke here and 
one there kept the stern straight. The palm- 
tree loomed higher and closer through the 
brightening mist. Ken no longer felt the 
presence f the walls. The thunderous roar 
had begun to lose some of its volume. 
Then with & crash through a lashing wave 
the boat raced out into the open light. Ken 
saw a beautiful foam-covered pool, down 
toward which the boat kept bumping over a 
succession of diminishing waves. 

He gave a start of joy to see Pepe's black 
head bobbing in the choppy channel. Pepe 
had beat the boat to the outlet. He was 
swimming easily, and evidently he had not 
been injured. 

Ken turned the bow toward him. But 
.Pepe did not need any help, and a few more 
strokes put him in shallow water. Ken dis- 
covered that the boat, once out of the current, 
was exceedingly loggy and hard to row. It 
was half full of water. Ken's remaining 
strength went to pull ashore, and there he 
staggered out and dropped on the rocky 

The blue sky was very beautiful and sweet 
to look at just then. But Ken had to close 



his eyes. He did not have strength left to 
keep them open. For a while all seemed dim 
and obscure to him. Then he felt a dizziness, 
which in turn succeeded to a racing riot of 
his nerves and veins. His heart gradually 
resumed a normal beat, and his bursting 
lungs seemed to heal. A sickening languor 
lay upon him. He could not hold little stones 
which he felt under his fingers. He could 
not raise his hands. The life appeared to 
have gone from his legs. 

All this passed, at length, and, hearing Hal's 
voice, Ken sat up. The outfit was drying 
in the sun; Pepe was bailing out the boat; 
George was wiping his guns ; and Hal was nurs- 
ing a very disheveled little racoon. 

"You can bring on any old thing now, for 
all I care," said Hal. "I'd shoot Lachine 
Rapids with Ken at the oars." 

"He's a fine boatman," replied George. 
"Weren't you scared when we were in the 
middle of that darned place?" 

"Me? Naw!" 

"Well, I was scared, and don't you forget 
it," said Ken to them. 

"You were all in, Ken," replied Hal. 
"Never saw you so tuckered out. The day 
you and Prince went after the cougar along 
that canon precipice you were all in that 



time. George, it took Ken six hours to 
climb out of that hole." 

"Tell me about it," said George, all eyes. 

"No stories now," put in Ken. "The 
sun is still high. We've got to be on our 
way. Let's look over the lay of the land." 

Below the pool was a bold, rocky bluff, 
round which the river split. What branch 
to take was a matter of doubt and anxiety 
to Ken. Evidently this bluff was an island. 
It had a yellow front and long bare ledges 
leading into the river. 

Ken climbed the bluff, accompanied by the 
boys, and found it covered with palm-trees. 
Up there everything was so dry and hot 
that it did not seem to be jungle at all. Even 
the palms were yellow and parched. Pepe 
stood the heat, but the others could not en- 
dure it. Ken took one long look at the sur- 
rounding country, so wild and dry and still, 
and then led the way down the loose, dusty 

Thereupon he surveyed the right branch 
of the river and followed it a little distance. 
The stream here foamed and swirled among 
jagged rocks. At the foot of this rapid 
stretched the first dead water Ken had en- 
countered for miles. A flock of wild geese 
rose from under his feet and flew down-stream. 



"Geese!" exclaimed Ken. "I wonder if 
that means we are getting down near lagoons 
or big waters. George, wild geese don't 
frequent little streams, do they?" 

"There's no telling where you'll find them 
in this country," answered George. "I've 
chased them right in our orange groves." 

They returned to look at the left branch 
of the river. It was open and one continuous 
succession of low steps. That would have 
decided Ken even if the greater volume of 
water had not gone down on this left side. 
As far as he could see was a wide, open river 
running over little ledges. It looked to be 
the easiest and swiftest navigation he had 
come upon, and so indeed it proved. The 
water was swift, and always dropped over 
some ledge in a rounded fall that was safe 
for him to shoot. It was great fun going 
over these places. The boys hung their 
feet over the gunwales most of the time, 
sliding them along the slippery ledge or giving 
a kick to help the momentum. When they 
came to a fall, Ken would drop off the bow, 
hold the boat back and swing it straight, 
then jump in, and over it would go souse! 

There were so many of these ledges, and 
they were so close together, that going over 
them grew to be a habit. It induced care- 



lessness. The boat drifted to a brow of a fall 
full four feet high. Ken, who was at the bow, 
leaped off just in time to save the boat. He 
held on while the swift water surged about 
his knees. He yelled for the boys to jump. 
As the stern where they sat was already over 
the fall it was somewhat difficult to make the 
boys vacate quickly enough. 

"Tumble out! Quick!" bawled Ken. "Do 
you think I'm Samson?" 

Over they went, up to their necks in the 
boiling foam, and not a second too soon, for 
Ken could hold the boat no longer. It went 
over smoothly, just dipping the stern under 
water. If the boys had remained aboard, 
the boat would have swamped. As it was, 
Pepe managed to catch the rope, which Ken 
had wisely thrown out, and he drifted down 
to the next ledge. Ken found this nearly as 
high as the last one. So he sent the boys be- 
low to catch the boat. This worked all 
right. The shelves slanted slightly, with the 
shallow part of the water just at the break of 
the ledge. They passed half a dozen of these, 
making good time, and before they knew it were 
again in a deep, smooth jungle lane with bam- 
boo and streamers of moss waving over them. 

The shade was cool, and Ken settled down 
in the stern-seat, grateful for a rest. To his 



surprise, he did not see a bird. The jungle 
was asleep. Once or twice Ken fancied he 
heard the tinkle and gurgle of water running 
over rocks. The boat glided along silently, 
with Pepe rowing leisurely, George asleep, 
Hal dreaming. 

Ken watched the beautiful green banks. 
They were high, a mass of big-leafed vines, 
flowering and fragrant, above which towered 
the jungle giants. Ken wanted to get out 
and study those forest trees. But he made 
no effort to act upon his good intentions, and 
felt that he must take the most of his forestry 
study at long range. He was reveling in the 
cool recesses under the leaning cypresses, in 
the soft swish of bearded moss, and the 
strange rustle of palms, in the dreamy hum 
of the resting jungle, when his pleasure was 
brought to an abrupt end. 

"Santa Maria!" yelled Pepe. 

George woke up with a start. Hal had 
been jarred out of his day-dream, and looked 
resentful. Ken gazed about him with the 
feeling of a man going into a trance, instead 
of coming out of one. 

The boat was fast on a mud-bank. That 
branch of the river ended right there. The 
boys had come all those miles to run into a 
blind pocket. 



Ken's glance at the high yellow bank, 
here crumbling and bare, told him there was 
no outlet. He had a sensation of blank dis- 

"Gee!" exclaimed Hal, softly. 

George rubbed his eyes ; and, searching for 
a cigarette, he muttered: "We're lost! I said 
it was coming to us. We've got to go back!" 



FOR a moment Ken Ward was utterly 
crushed under the weight of this sudden 
blow. It was so sudden that he had no time 
to think; or his mind was clamped on the 
idea of attempting to haul the boat up thslt 
long, insurmountable series of falls. 

"It '11 be an awful job," burst out Hal. 

No doubt in the mind of each boy was the 
same idea the long haul, wading over slip- 
pery rocks; the weariness of pushing legs 
against the swift current; the packing of sup- 
plies uphill; and then the toil of lifting the 
heavy boat up over a fall. 

"Mucho malo," said Pepe, and he groaned. 
That was significant, coming from a mozo, 
who thought nothing of rowing forty miles 
in a day. 

"Oh, but it's tough luck," cried Ken. 
"Why didn't I choose the right branch of this 
pesky river?" 

"I think you used your head at that," 


said Hal. "Most of the water came down 
on this side. Where did it go?" 

Hal had hit the vital question, and it 
cleared Ken's brain. 

"Hal, you're talking sense. Where did 
that water go? It couldn't all have sunk into 
the earth. We'll find out. We won't try 
to go back. We can't go back." 

Pepe shoved off the oozy mud, and, re- 
luctantly, as if he appreciated the dilemma, he 
turned the boat and rowed along the shore. 
As soon as Ken had recovered somewhat he 
decided there must be an outlet which he had 
missed. This reminded him that at a point 
not far back he had heard the tinkle and gurgle 
of unseen water flowing over rocks. 

He directed Pepe to row slowly along the 
bank that he thought was the island side. 
As they glided under the drooping bamboos 
and silky curtains of moss George began to 
call out: "Low bridge! Low bridge!" Fora 
boy who was forever voicing ill-omened sug- 
gestions as to what might soon happen he 
was extraordinarily cheerful. 

There were places where all had to lie 
flat and others where Pepe had to use his 
machete. This disturbed the siesta of many 
aquatic birds, most of which flew swiftly 
away. But there were many of the gray- 



breasted, blue-backed bitterns that did not 
take to flight. These croaked dismally, and 
looked down upon the boys with strange, 
protruding eyes. 

"Those darn birds '11 give me the willies," 
declared Hal. "George, you just look like 
them when you croak about what's coming 
to us." 

"Just wait!" retorted George. "It '11 come, 
all right. Then I'll have the fun of seeing 
you scared silly." 

"What! You'll not do anything of the 
kind!" cried Hal, hotly. "I've been in places 
where such such a skinny little sap-head as 

"Here, you kids stop wrangling," ordered 
Ken, who sensed hostilities in the air. ' ' We've 
got trouble enough." 

Suddenly Ken signaled Pepe to stop rowing. 

"Boys, I hear running water. Aha ! Here's 
a current. See it's making right under this 

Before them was a high wall of broad- 
leaved vines, so thick that nothing could be 
seen through them. Apparently this luxu- 
riant canopy concealed the bank. Pepe poked 
an oar into it, but found nothing solid. 

"Pepe, cut a way through. We've got 
to see where this water runs." 



It was then that Ken came to a full ap- 
preciation of a machete. He had often fancied 
it a much less serviceable tool than an ax. 
Pepe flashed the long, bright blade up, down, 
and around, and presently the boat was its 
own length in a green tunnel. Pepe kept on 
slashing while Ken poled the boat in and the 
other boys dumped the cut foliage overboard. 
Soon they got through this mass of hanging 
vine and creeper. Much to Ken's surprise 
and delight, he found no high bank, but low, 
flat ground, densely wooded, through which 
ran a narrow, deep outlet of the river. 

"By all that's lucky!" ejaculated Ken. 

George and Hal whooped their pleasure, 
and Pepe rubbed his muscular hands. Then 
all fell silent. The deep, penetrating silence 
of that jungle was not provocative of speech. 
The shade was so black that when a ray of 
sunlight did manage to pierce the dense 
canopy overhead it resembled a brilliant 
golden spear. A few lofty palms and a few 
clumps of bamboo rather emphasized the 
lack of these particular species in this forest. 
Nor was there any of the familiar streaming 
moss hanging from the trees. This glen was 
green, cool, dark. It did not smell exactly 
swampy, but rank, like a place where many 
water plants were growing. 



The outlet was so narrow that Ken was not 
able to use the oars. Still, as the current 
was swift, the boat went along rapidly. He 
saw a light ahead and heard the babble of 
water. The current quickened, and the boat 
drifted suddenly upon the edge of an oval 
glade, where the hot sun beat down. A 
series of abrupt mossy benches, over which 
the stream slid almost noiselessly, blocked 
further progress. 

The first thing about this glade that Ken 
noted particularly, after the difficulties pre- 
sented by the steep steps, was the multitude 
of snakes sunning themselves along the line 
of further progress. 

"Boys, it '11 be great wading down there, 
hey?" he queried. 

Pepe grumbled for the first time on the 
trip. Ken gathered from the native's looks 
and speech that he did not like snakes. 

"Watch me peg 'em!" yelled Hal, and he 
began to throw stones with remarkable ac- 
curacy. "Hike, you brown sons-of-guns !" 

George, not to be outdone, made a dive 
for his .22 and began to pop as if he had no 
love for snakes. Ken had doubts about this 
species. The snakes were short, thick, dull 
brown in color, and the way they slipped 
into the stream proved they were water- 


snakes. Ken had never read of a brown water- 
moccasin, so he doubted that these belonged 
to that poisonous family. Anyway, snakes 
were the least of his troubles. 

" Boys, you're doing fine," he said. " There 
are about a thousand snakes there, and you've 
hit about six." 

He walked down through the glade into the 
forest, and was overjoyed to hear once more 
the heavy roar of rapids. He went on. The 
timber grew thinner, and light penetrated the 
jungle. Presently he saw the gleam of water 
through the trees. Then he hurried back. 

"All right, boys," he shouted. "Here's 
the river." 

The boys were so immensely relieved that 
packing the outfit round the waterfalls was 
work they set about with alacrity. Ken, 
who had on his boots, broke a trail through 
the ferns and deep moss. Pepe, being bare- 
foot, wasted time looking for snakes. George 
teased him. But Pepe was deadly serious. 
And the way he stepped and looked made 
Ken thoughtful. He had made his last trip 
with supplies, and was about to start back 
to solve the problem of getting the boat 
down, when a hoarse yell resounded through 
the sleeping jungle. Parrots screeched, and 
other birds set up a cackling. 



Ken bounded up the slope. 

"Santa Maria!" cried Pepe. 

Ken followed the direction indicated by 
Pepe's staring eyes and trembling finger. 
Hanging from a limb of a tree was a huge 
black-snake. It was as thick as Ken's leg. 
The branch upon which it poised its neck 
so gracefully was ten feet high, and the tail 
curled into the ferns on the ground. 

"Boys, it's one of the big fellows," cried 

"Didn't I tell you!" yelled George, running 
down for his gun. 

Hal seemed rooted to the spot. Pepe 
began to jabber. Ken watched the snake, 
and felt instinctively from its sinister looks 
that it was dangerous. George came running 
back with his .32 and waved it in the air as 
he shot. He was so frightened that he for- 
got to aim. Ken took the rifle from him. 

"You can't hit him with this. Run after 
your shotgun. Quick!" 

But the sixteen-gage was clogged with a 
shell that would not eject. Ken's guns were 
in their cases. 

"Holy smoke!" cried George. "He's com- 
ing down." 

The black-snake moved his body and began 
to slide toward the tree-trunk. 



Ken shot twice at the head of the snake. 
It was a slow-swaying mark hard to hit. 
The reptile stopped and poised wonderfully 
on the limb. He was not coiled about it, 
but lay over it with about four feet of neck 
waving, swaying to and fro. He watched 
the boys, and his tongue, like a thin, black 
streak, darted out viciously. 

Ken could not hit the head, so he sent a 
bullet through the thick part of the body. 
Swift as a gleam the snake darted from the 

"Santa Maria!" yelled Pepe, and he ran off. 

"Look out, boys," shouted Ken. He 
picked up Pepe's machete and took to his 
heels. George and Hal scrambled before him. 
They ran a hundred yards or more, and Ken 
halted in an open rocky spot. He was angry, 
and a little ashamed that he had run. The 
snake did not pursue, and probably was as 
badly frightened as the boys had been. Pepe 
stopped some distance away, and Hal and 
George came cautiously back. 

"I don't see anything of him," said Ken. 
"I'm going back." 

He walked slowly, keeping a sharp outlook, 
and, returning to the glade, found blood-stains 
under the tree. The snake had disappeared 
without leaving a trail. 



"If I'd had my shotgun ready!" exclaimed 
Ken, in disgust. And he made a note that in 
the future he would be prepared to shoot. 

"Wasn't he a whopper, Ken?" said Hal. 
"We ought to have got his hide. What a 
fine specimen!" 

"Boys, you drive away those few little 
snakes while I figure on a way to get the boat 

"Not on your life!" replied Hal. 

George ably sustained Hal's objection. 

"Mucho malo," said Pepe, and then added 
a loud "No" in English. 

"All right, my brave comrades," rejoined 
Ken, scornfully. "As I've not done any work 
yet or taken any risks, I'll drive the snakes 

With Pepe's machete he cut a long forked 
pole, trimmed it, and, armed with this weapon, 
he assaulted the rolls and bands and balls 
of brown snakes. He stalked boldly down 
upon them, pushed and poled, and even 
kicked them off the mossy banks. Hal 
could not stand that, and presently he got 
a pole and went to Ken's assistance. 

"Who's hollering now?" he yelled to George. 

Whereupon George cut a long branch and 
joined the battle. They whacked and threshed 
and pounded, keeping time with yells. Every- 
10 *35 


where along the wet benches slipped and 
splashed the snakes. But after they were 
driven into the water they did not swim away. 
They dove under the banks and then stretched 
out their pointed heads from the dripping 
edge of moss. 

"Say, fellows, we're making it worse for 
us," declared Ken. "See, the brown devils 
won't swim off. We'd better have left them 
on the bank. Let's catch one and see if he'll 

He tried to pick up one on his pole, but 
it slipped off. George fished after another. 
Hal put the end of his stick down inside the 
coil of still another and pitched it. The 
brown, wriggling, wet snake shot straight at 
the unsuspecting George, and struck him and 
momentarily wound about him. 

"Augrrh!" bawled George, flinging off the 
reptile and leaping back. "What 'd you do 
that for? I'll punch you!" 

"George, he didn't mean it," said Ken. 
"It was an accident. Come on, let's tease 
that fellow and see if he'll bite." 

The snake coiled and raised his flat head 
and darted a wicked tongue out and watched 
with bright, beady eyes, but he did not 
strike. Ken went as close as he thought 
safe and studied the snake. 



''Boys, his head isn't a triangle, and there 
are no little pits under his eyes. Those are 
two signs of a poisonous snake. I don't 
believe this fellow's one." 

"He'll be a dead snake, b' gosh," replied 
George, and he fell to pounding it with his 

"Don't smash him. I want the skin," 
yelled Hal. 

Ken pondered on the situation before him. 

" Come, the sooner we get at this the better," 
he said. 

There was a succession of benches through 
which the stream zigzagged and tumbled. 
These benches were rock ledges over which 
moss had grown fully a foot thick, and they 
were so oozy and slippery that it was no easy 
task to walk upon them. Then they were 
steep, so steep that it was remarkable how 
the water ran over them so smoothly, with 
very little noise or break. It was altogether 
a new kind of waterfall to Ken. But if the 
snakes had not been hidden there, navigation 
would have presented an easier problem. 

"Come on boys, alongside now, and hold 
back," he ordered, gripping the bow. 

Exactly what happened the next few seconds 
was not clear in his mind. There was a rush, 
and all were being dragged by the boat. 



The glade seemed to whizz past. There were 
some sodden thumps, a great splashing, a check 
and lo ! they were over several benches. It 
was the quickest and easiest descent he had 
ever made down a steep waterfall. 

"Fine!" ejaculated George, wiping the ooze 
from his face. 

"Yes, it was fine," Ken replied. "But 
unless this boat has wings something '11 hap- 
pen soon." 

Below was a long, swift curve of water, 
very narrow and steep, with a moss-covered 
rock dividing the lower end. Ken imagined 
if there was a repetition of the first descent 
the boat would be smashed on that rock. 
He ordered Pepe, who was of course the strong- 
est, to go below and jump to the rock. There 
he might prevent a collision. 

Pepe obeyed, but as he went he yelled and 
doubled up in contortions as he leaped over 
snakes in the moss. 

Then gently, gingerly the boys started the 
boat off the bench, where it had lodged. 
George was at the stern, Ken and Hal at the 
bow. Suddenly Hal shrieked and pumped 
straight up, to land in the boat. 

"Snakes!" he howled. 
"Give us a rest!" cried Ken, in disgust. 
The boat moved as if instinct with life. 



It dipped, then wheeze! it dove over the 
bench. Hal was thrown off his feet, fell 
back on the gunwale, and thence into the 
snaky moss. George went sprawling face 
downward into the slimy ooze, and Ken was 
jerked clear off the bench into the stream. 
He got his footing and stood firm in water to 
his waist, and he had the bow -rope coiled 
round his hands. 

"Help! Help!" he yelled, as he felt the 
dragging weight too much for him. 

If Ken retarded the progress of the boat at 
all, it was not much. George saw his distress 
and the danger menacing the boat, and he 
leaped valiantly forward. As he dashed down 
a slippery slant his feet flew up higher than 
where his head had been; he actually turned 
over in the air, and fell with a great sop. 

Hal had been trying to reach Ken, but 
here he stopped and roared with laughter. 

Despite Ken's anger and fear of snakes, 
and his greater fear for the boat, he likewise 
had to let out a peal of laughter. That 
tumble of George's was great. Then Ken's 
footing gave way and he went down. His 
mouth filled with nasty water, nearly stran- 
gling him. He was almost blinded, too. His 
arms seemed to be wrenched out of their 
sockets, and he felt himself bumping over 



moss-covered rocks as soft as cushions. Slimy 
ropes or roots of vegetation, that felt like 
snakes, brushed his face and made him cold 
and sick. It was impossible to hold the boat 
any longer. He lodged against a stone, and 
the swift water forced him upon it. Blinking 
and coughing, he stuck fast. 

Ken saw the boat headed like a dart for 
the rock where Pepe stood. 

"Let 'er go!" yelled Ken. "Don't try to 
stop her. Pepe, you'll be smashed!" 

Pepe acted like a man determined to make 
up for past cowardice. He made a great show 
of brave intentions. He was not afraid of a 
boat. He braced himself and reached out 
with his brawny arms. Ken feared for the 
obstinate native's life, for the boat moved 
with remarkable velocity. 

At the last second Pepe's courage vanished. 
He turned tail to get out of the way. But 
he slipped. The boat shot toward him and 
the blunt stern struck him with a dull thud. 
Pepe sailed into the air, over the rock, and 
went down cleaving the water. 

The boat slipped over the stone as easily 
as if it had been a wave and, gliding into still 
water below, lodged on the bank. 

Ken crawled out of the stream, and when 
he ascertained that no one was injured he 



stretched himself on the ground and gave up 
to mirth. Pepe resembled a drowned rat; 
Hal was an object to wonder at; and George, 
in his coating of slime and with strings of 
moss in his hair, was the funniest thing Ken 
had ever seen. It was somewhat of a sur- 
prise to him to discover, presently, that the 
boys were convulsed with fiendish glee over 
the way he himself looked. 

By and by they recovered, and, with many 
a merry jest and chuckle of satisfaction, they 
repacked the boat and proceeded on their 
way. No further obstacle hindered them. 
They drifted out of the shady jungle into the 
sunlit river. 

In half a mile of drifting the heat of the 
sun dried the boys' clothes. The water was 
so hot that it fairly steamed. Once more the 
boat entered a placid aisle over which the 
magnificent gray- wreathed cypresses bowed, 
and the west wind waved long ribbons of 
moss, and wild fowl winged reluctant flight. 

Ken took advantage of this tranquil stretch 
of river to work on his map. He realized that 
he must use every spare moment and put 
down his drawings and notes as often as time 
and travel permitted. It had dawned on 
Ken that rapids and snakes, and all the dan- 
gers along the river, made his task of ob- 



servation and study one apt to be put into 
eclipse at times. Once or twice he landed 
on shore to climb a bluff, and was pleased 
each time to see that he had lined a compara- 
tively true course on his map. He had 
doubts of its absolute accuracy, yet he could 
not help having pride in his work. So far 
so good, he thought, and hoped for good- 
fortune farther down the river. 



DEYOND a bend in the river the boys 
* ' came upon an island with a narrow, 
shaded channel on one side, a wide shoal on 
the other, and a group of huge cypresses at 
the up-stream end. 

"Looks good to me," said Hal. 

The instant Ken saw the island he knew it 
was the place he had long been seeking to 
make a permanent camp for a few days. 
They landed, to find an ideal camping site. 
The ground under the cypresses was flat, 
dry, and covered with short grass. Not a ray 
of sunlight penetrated the foliage. A pile 
of driftwood had lodged against one of the 
trees, and this made easy the question of 

"Great!" exclaimed Ken. "Come on, let's 
look over the ground." 

The island was about two hundred yards 
long, and the lower end was hidden by a 
growth of willows. Bursting through this, 



the boys saw a weedy flat leading into a wide, 
shallow back-eddy. Great numbers of ducks 
were sporting and feeding. The stones of 
the rocky shore were lined with sleeping ducks. 
Herons of all colors and sizes waded about, 
or slept on one leg. Snipe ran everywhere. 
There was a great squawking and flapping of 
wings. But at least half the number of water- 
fowl were too tame or too lazy to fly. ; 

Ken returned to camp with his comrades, 
all highly elated over the prospects. The 
best feature about this beautiful island was 
the absence of ticks and snakes. 

"Boys, this is the place," said Ken. "We'll 
hang up here for a while. Maybe we won't 
strike another such nice place to stay." 

So they unloaded the boat, taking every- 
thing out, and proceeded to pitch a camp 
that was a delight. They were all loud in 
expressions of satisfaction. Then Pepe set 
about leisurely peeling potatoes; George took 
his gun and slipped off toward the lower end 
of the island; Hal made a pen for his racoon, 
and then more pens, as if he meant to capture 
a menagerie; and Ken made a comfortable 
lounging-bed under a cypress. He wanted 
to forget that nagging worry as to farther 
descent of the river, and to enjoy this place. 

"Bang!" went George's sixteen - gage. A 


loud whirring of wings followed, and the air 
was full of ducks. 

"Never touched one!" yelled Hal, in taunt- 
ing voice. 

A flock of teal skimmed the water and 
disappeared up-stream. The shot awakened 
parrots in the trees, where for a while there 
was clamor. Ken saw George wade out 
into the shoal and pick up three ducks. 

" Pot-shot!" exclaimed Hal, disgustedly. 
"Why couldn't he be a sport and shoot them 
on the fly?" 

George crossed to the opposite shore and, 
climbing a bare place, stood looking before him. 

"Hey, George, don't go far," called Ken. 

"Fine place over here," replied George, 
and, waving his hand, he passed into the 
bushes out of sight. 

Ken lay back upon his blanket with a 
blissful sense of rest and contentment. Many 
a time he had lain so, looking up through the 
broad leaves of a sycamore or the lacy foliage 
of a birch or the delicate crisscross of mil- 
lions of pine needles. This overhead canopy, 
however, was different. Only here and there 
could he catch little slivers of blue sky. The 
graceful streamers of exquisite mess hung 
like tassels of silver. In the dead stillness 
of noonday they seemed to float curved in the 



shape in which the last soft breeze had left 
them. High upon a branch he saw a red- 
headed parrot hanging back downward, after 
the fashion of a monkey. Then there were 
two parrots asleep in the fork of a branch. 
It was the middle of the day, and all things 
seemed tired and sleepy. The deep channel 
murmured drowsily, and the wide expanse 
of river on the other side lapped lazily at the 
shore. The only other sound was the mourn- 
ing of turtle-doves, one near and another far 
away. Again the full richness, the mellow 
sweetness of this song struck Ken forcibly. 
He remembered that all the way down the 
river he had heard that mournful note. It 
was beautiful but melancholy. Somehow it 
made him think that it had broken the dreamy 
stillness of the jungle noonday long, long ago. 
It was sweet but sad and old. He did not 
like to hear it. 

Ken yielded to the soothing influence of 
the hour and fell asleep. When he awoke 
there was George, standing partially undressed 
and very soberly popping ticks. He had en- 
listed the services of Pepe, and, to judge from 
the remarks of both, they needed still more 

"Say, Garrapato George, many ticks over 



"Ticks!" shouted George, wildly, waving 
his cigarette. "Millions of 'em! And there's 
ouch! Kill that one, Pepe. Wow! he's 
as big as a penny. There's game over there. 
It's a flat with some kind of berry bush. 
There's lots of trails. I saw cat-tracks, and I 
scared up wild turkeys " 

"Turkeys!" Ken exclaimed, eagerly. 

"You bet. I saw a dozen. How they can 
run! I didn't flush them. Then I saw a 
flock of those black and white ducks, like the 
big fellow I shot. They were feeding. I 
believe they're Muscovy ducks." 

"I'm sure I don't know, but we can call 
them that." 

"Well, I'd got a shot, too, but I saw some 
gray things sneaking in the bushes. I thought 
they were pigs, so I got out of there quick." 

"You mean javelin?" 

1 ' Yep , I mean wild pigs. Oh ! We've struck 
the place for game. I'll bet it's coming to us." 

When George anticipated pleasurable events 
he was the most happy of companions. It 
was good to look forward. He was con- 
tinually expecting things to happen; he was 
always looking ahead with great eagerness. 
But unfortunately he had a twist of mind 
toward the unfavorable side of events, and 
so always had the boys fearful. 



"Well, pigs or no pigs, ticks or no ticks, 
we'll hunt and fish, and see all there is to 
see," declared Ken, and he went back to his 

When he came out of that lazy spell, 
George and Hal were fishing. George had 
Ken's rod, and it happened to be the one 
Ken thought most of. 

"Do you know how to fish?" he asked. 

"I've caught tarpon bigger'n you," re- 
torted George. 

That fact was indeed too much for Ken, 
and he had nothing to do but risk his be- 
loved rod in George's hands. And the way 
George swung it about, slashed branches with 
it, dropped the tip in the water, was exceed- 
ingly alarming to Ken. The boy would break 
the tip in a minute. Yet Ken could not 
take his rod away from a boy who had caught 

There were fish breaking water. Where a 
little while before the river had been smooth, 
now it was ruffled by ravalo, gar, and other 
fish Pepe could not name. But George and 
Hal did not get a bite. They tried all their 
artificial flies and spoons and minnows, then 
the preserved mullet, and finally several 
kinds of meat. 

"Bah! they want pie," said Hal. 


For Ken Ward to see little and big fish 
capering around under his very nose and not 
be able to hook one was exasperating. He 
shot a small fish, not unlike a pickerel, and 
had the boys bait with that. Still no strike 
was forthcoming. 

This put Ken on his mettle. He rigged 
up a minnow tackle, and, going to the lower 
end of the island, he tried to catch some 
minnows. There were plenty of them in the 
shallow water, but they would not bite. 
Finally Ken waded in the shoal and turned 
over stones. He found some snails almost 
as large as mussels, and with these he hurried 
back to the boys. 

"Here, if you don't get a bite on one of 
these I'm no fisherman," said Ken. "Try 

George got his hands on the new bait in 
advance of Hal and so threw his hook into 
the water first. No sooner had the bait 
sunk than he got a strong pull. 

"There! Careful now," said Ken. 

George jerked up, hooking a fish that made 
the rod look like a buggy-whip. 

"Give .me the rod," yelled Ken, trying to 
take it. 

"It's my fish," yelled back George. 

He held on and hauled with all his might. 


A long, finely built fish, green as emerald, 
split the water and churned it into foam. 
Then, sweeping out in strong dash, it broke 
Ken's rod square in the middle. Ken eyed 
the wreck with sorrow, and George with no 
little disapproval. 

"You said you knew how to fish," protested 

"Those split -bamboo rods are no good," 
replied George. "They won't hold a fish." 

"George, you're a grand fisherman!" ob- 
served Hal, with a chuckle. "Why, you 
only dreamed you've caught tarpon." 

Just then Hal had a tremendous strike. 
He was nearly hauled off the bank. But he 
recovered his balance and clung to his nodding 
rod. Hal's rod was heavy cane, and his line 
was thick enough to suit. So nothing broke. 
The little brass reel buzzed and rattled. 

"I've got a whale!" yelled Hal. 

"It's a big gar alligator-gar," said George. 
"You haven't got him. He's got you." 

The fish broke water, showing long, open 
jaws with teeth like saw-teeth. It threshed 
about and broke away. Hal reeled in to 
find the hook straightened out. Then George 
kindly commented upon the very skilful 
manner in which Hal had handled the gar. 
For a wonder Hal did not reply. 



By four o'clock, when Ken sat down to 
supper, he was so thirsty that his mouth 
puckered as dry as if he had been eating green 
persimmons. This matter of thirst had be- 
come serious. Twice each day Ken had 
boiled a pot of water, into which he mixed 
cocoa, sugar, and condensed milk, and begged 
the boys to drink that and nothing else. 
Nevertheless Pepe and George, and occasion- 
ally Hal, would drink unboiled water. For 
this meal the boys had venison and duck, 
and canned vegetables and fruit, so they 
fared sumptuously. 

Pepe pointed to a string of Muscovy ducks 
sailing up the river. George had a good shot 
at the tail end of the flock, and did not even 
loosen a feather. Then a line of cranes and 
herons passed over the island. When a 
small bunch of teal flew by, to be followed 
by several canvasbacks, Ken ran for his 
shotgun. It was a fine hammerless, a hard- 
shooting gun, and one Ken used for grouse- 
hunting. In his hurry he grasped a handful 
of the first shells he came to and, when he 
ran to the river-bank, found they were loads 
of small shot. He decided to try them 

While Pepe leisurely finished the supper 
Ken and George and Hal sat on the bank 

n 151 


watching for ducks. Just before the sun went 
down a hard wind blew, making difficult 
shooting. Every few moments ducks would 
whir by. George's gun missed fire often, 
and when it did work all right, he missed the 
ducks. To Ken's surprise he found the 
load of small shot very deadly. He could 
sometimes reach a duck at eighty yards. 
The little brown ducks and teal he stopped as 
if they had hit a stone wall. He dropped a 
canvasback with the sheer dead plunge 
that he liked. Ken thought a crippled duck 
enough to make a hunter quit shooting. 
With six ducks killed, he decided to lay aside 
his gun for that time, when Pepe pointed 
down the river. 

"Pato real," he said. 

Ken looked eagerly and saw three of the 
big black ducks flying as high as the tree- 
tops and coming fast. Snapping a couple 
of shells in the gun, Ken stood ready. At 
the end of the island two of the ducks wheeled 
to the left, but the big leader came on like 
a thunderbolt. To Ken he made a canvas- 
back seem slow. Ken caught him over the 
sights of the gun, followed him up till he was 
abreast and beyond; then, sweeping a little 
ahead of him, Ken pulled both triggers. The 
Muscovy swooped up and almost stopped 



in his flight while a cloud of black feathers 
puffed away on the wind. He sagged a 
little, recovered, and flew on as strong as ever. 
The small shot were not heavy enough to 
stop him. 

" We'll need big loads for the Muscovies 
and the turkeys," said George. 

"We've all sizes up to BB's," replied Ken. 
"George, let's take a walk over there where 
you saw the turkeys. It's early yet." 

Then Pepe told George if they wanted to 
see game at that hour the thing to do was to 
sit still in camp and watch the game come 
down to the river to drink. And he pointed 
down-stream to a herd of small deer quietly 
walking out on the bar. 

"After all the noise we made!" exclaimed 
Ken. "Well, this beats me. George, we'll stay 
right here and not shoot again to-night. I've 
an idea we'll see something worth while." 

It was Pepe's idea, but Ken instantly saw 
its possibilities. There were no tributaries to 
the river or springs in that dry jungle, and, 
as manifestly the whole country abounded 
in game, it must troop down to the river in 
the cool of the evening to allay the hot day's 
thirst. The boys were perfectly situated for 
watching the dark bank on the channel side 
of the island as well as the open bars on the 


other. The huge cypresses cast shadows that 
even in daylight effectually concealed them. 
They put out the camp-fire and, taking com- 
fortable seats in the folds of the great gnarled 
roots, began to watch and listen. 

The vanguard of thirsty deer had prepared 
Ken for something remarkable, and he was in 
no wise disappointed. The trooping of deer 
down to the water's edge and the flight of 
wild fowl up-stream increased in proportion 
to the gathering shadows of -twilight. The 
deer must have got a scent, for they raised 
their long ears and stood still as statues, 
gazing across toward the upper end of the 
island. But they showed no fear. It was 
only when they had drunk their fill and 
wheeled about to go up the narrow trails 
over the bank that they showed uneasiness 
and haste. This made Ken wonder if they 
were fearful of being ambushed by jaguars. 
Soon the dark line of deer along the shore 
shaded into the darkness of night. Then 
Ken heard soft splashes and an occasional 
patter of hard hoofs. The whir of wings 
had ceased. 

A low exclamation from Pepe brought at- 
tention to interesting developments closer 
at hand. 

"Javelin!" he whispered. 


On the channel side of the island was im- 
penetrable pitchy blackness. Ken tried to 
pierce it with straining eyes, but he could 
not' even make out the shore-line that he knew 
was only ten yards distant. Still he could 
hear, and that was thrilling enough. Every- 
where on this side, along the edge of the water 
and up the steep bank, were faint tickings of 
twigs and soft rustlings of leaves. Then 
there was a continuous sound, so low as to 
be almost inaudible, that resembled nothing 
Ken could think of so much as a long line of 
softly dripping water. It swelled in volume 
to a tiny roll, and ended in a sharp clicking 
on rocks and a gentle splashing in the water. 
A drove of javelin had come down to drink. 
Occasionally the glint of green eyes made 
the darkness all the more weird. Suddenly a 
long, piercing wail, a keen cry almost human, 
quivered into the silence. 

"Panther!" Ken whispered, instantly, to 
the boys. It was a different cry from that of 
the lion of the canon, but there was a strange 
wild note that betrayed the species. A 
stillness fell, dead as that of a subterranean 
cavern. Strain his ears as he might, Ken 
could not detect the slightest sound. It 
was as if no javelin or any other animals 
had come down to drink. That listening, 


palpitating moment seemed endless. What 
mystery of wild life it meant, that silence 
following the cry of the panther! Then the 
jungle sounds recommenced the swishing of 
water, the brushing in the thicket, stealthy 
padded footsteps, the faint snapping of twigs. 
Some kind of a cat uttered an unearthly squall. 
Close upon this the clattering of deer up the 
bank on the other side rang out sharply. 
The deer were running, and the striking of 
the little hoofs ceased in short order. Ken 
listened intently. From far over the bank came 
a sound not unlike a cough deep, hoarse, 
inexpressibly wild and menacing. 

"Tigre!" cried Pepe, gripping Ken hard 
with both hands. He could feel him trem- 
bling. It showed how the native of the 
jungle-belt feared the jaguar. 

Again the cough rasped out, nearer and 
louder this time. It was not a courage- 
provoking sound, and seemed on second 
thought more of a growl than a cough. Ken 
felt safe on the island ; nevertheless, he took 
up his rifle. 

"That's a tiger," whispered George. "I 
heard one once from the porch of the Alamitas 

A third time the jaguar told of his arrival 
upon the night scene. Ken was excited, and 



a thrill of fear. He made up his mind 
to listen with clearer ears, but the cough or 
growl was not repeated. 

Then a silence set in, so unbroken that it 
seemed haunted by the echoes of those wild 
jungle cries. Perhaps Ken had the haunting 
choes in mind. He knew what had sent 
the deer away and stilled the splashings and 
keepings. It was the hoarse voice of the lord 
5f the jungle. 

Pepe and the boys, too, fell under the spell 
of the hour. They did not break the charm 
by talking. Giant fireflies accentuated the 
ebony blackness and a low hum of insects 
riveted the attention on the stillness. Ken 
could not understand why he was more 
thoughtful on this trip than he had ever been 
before. Somehow he felt immeasurably older. 
Probably that was because it had seemed 
necessary for him to act like a man, even if he 
was only a boy. 

The black mantle of night lifted from under 
the cypresses, leaving a gloom that slowly 
paled. Through the dark foliage, low down 
over the bank, appeared the white tropical 
moon. Shimmering gleams chased the shad- 
ows across the ripples, and slowly the river 
brightened to a silver sheen. 

A great peace fell upon the jungle world. 


How white, how wild, how wonderful! It 
only made the island more beautiful and 
lonely. The thought of leaving it gave Ken 
Ward a pang. Almost he wished he were a 

And he lay there thinking of the wild places 
that he could never see, where the sun shone, 
the wind blew, the twilight shadowed, the 
rain fell ; where the colors and beauties changed 
with the passing hours; where a myriad of 
wild creatures preyed upon each other and 
night never darkened but upon strife and 



UPON awakening in the early morning 
Ken found his state one of huge en- 
joyment. He was still lazily tired, but the 
dead drag and ache had gone from his bones. 
A cool breeze wafted the mist from the river, 
breaking it up into clouds, between which 
streamed rosy shafts of sunlight. Wood- 
smoke from the fire Pepe was starting blew 
fragrantly over him. A hundred thousand 
birds seemed to be trying to burst their 
throats. The air was full of music. He lay 
still, listening to this melodious herald of the 
day till it ceased. 

Then a flock of parrots approached and 
circled over the island, screeching like a band 
of flying imps. Presently they alighted in 
the cypresses, bending the branches to a 
breaking-point and giving the trees a spotted 
appearance of green and red. Pepe waved 
his hand toward another flock sweeping over. 

"Parrakeets," he said. 


These birds were a solid green, much smaller 
than the red-heads, with longer tails. They 
appeared wilder than the red-heads, and flew 
higher, circling the same way and screeching, 
but they did not alight. Other flocks sailed 
presently from all directions. The last one 
was a cloud of parrots, a shining green and 
yellow mass several acres in extent. They 
flew still higher than the parrakeets. 

"Yellow-heads!" shouted George. "They're 
the big fellows, the talkers. If there ain't a 
million of 'em!" 

The boys ate breakfast in a din that made 
conversation useless. The red-heads swooped 
down upon the island, and the two unfriendly 
species flew back and forth, manifestly trying 
to drive the boys off. The mist had blown 
away, the sun was shining bright, when the 
myriad of parrots, in large and small flocks, 
departed to other jungle haunts. 

Pepe rowed across the wide shoal to the 
sand-bars. There in the soft ooze, among 
the hundreds of deer-tracks, Ken found a 
jaguar-track larger than his spread hand. 
It was different from a lion-track, yet he could 
not distinguish just what the difference was. 
Pepe, who had accompanied the boys to 
carry the rifles and game, pointed to the track 
and said, vehemently: 



"Tigre!" He pronounced it "tee-gray." 
And he added, "Grande!" 

' ' Big he certainly is, " Ken replied. ' ' Boys, 
we'll kill this jaguar. We'll bait this drinking- 
trail with a deer carcass and watch to- 

Once upon the bank, Ken was surprised 
to see a wide stretch of comparatively flat 
land. It was covered with a low vegetation, 
with here and there palm-trees on the little 
ridges and bamboo clumps down in the swales. 
Beyond the flat rose the dark line of dense 
jungle. It was not clear to Ken why that low 
piece of ground was not overgrown with the 
matted thickets and vines and big trees 
characteristic of other parts of the jungle. 

They struck into one of the trails, and had 
not gone a hundred paces when they espied 
a herd of deer. The grass and low bushes 
almost covered them. George handed his 
shotgun to Pepe and took his rifle. 

"Shoot low," said Ken. 

George pulled the trigger, and with the re- 
port a deer went down, but it was not the one 
Ken was looking at, nor the one at which he 
believed George had aimed. The rest of the 
herd bounded away, to disappear in a swale. 
Wading through bushes and grass, they found 
George's quarry, a small deer weighing per- 



haps sixty pounds. Pepe carried it over to 
the trail. Ken noted that he was exceedingly 
happy to carry the rifles. They went on at 
random, somehow feeling that, no matter in 
what direction, they would run into something 
to shoot at. 

The first bamboo swale was alive with 
chicalocki. Up to this time Ken had not 
seen this beautiful pheasant fly in the open, 
and he was astonished at its speed. It 
would burst out of the thick bamboo, whir its 
wings swiftly, then sail. That sail was a most 
graceful thing to see. George pulled his 
i6-gage twice, and missed both times. He 
had the beginner's fault shooting too soon. 
Presently Pepe beat a big cock chicalocki 
out of the bush. He made such a fine target, 
he sailed so evenly, that Ken simply looked 
at him over the gun-sights and followed him 
till he was out of sight. The next one he 
dropped like a plummet. Shooting chicalocki 
was too easy, he decided; they presented so 
fair a mark that it was unfair to pull on them. 

George was an impetuous hunter. Ken 
could not keep near him, nor coax or command 
him to stay near. He would wander off by 
himself. That was one mark in his favor; 
at least he had no fear. Pepe hung close to 
Ken and Hal, with his dark eyes roving every- 



where. Ken climbed out on one side of the 
swale, George on the other. Catching his 
whistle, Ken turned to look after him. He 
waved, and, pointing ahead, began to stoop 
and slip along from bush to bush. Presently 
a flock of Muscovy ducks rose before him, 
sailed a few rods, and alighted. Then from 
right under his feet labored up great gray 
birds. Wild geese! Ken recognized them 
as George's gun went bang! One tumbled 
over, the others wheeled toward the river. 
Ken started down into the swale to cross to 
where George was, when Pepe touched his 

"Turkeys!" he whispered. 

That changed Ken's mind. Pepe pointed 
into the low bushes ahead and slowly led 
Ken forward. He heard a peculiar low thump- 
ing. Trails led everywhere, and here and 
there were open patches covered with a scant 
growth of grass. Across one of these flashed 
a bronze streak, then another and another. 

"Shoot! Shoot!" said Pepe, tensely. 

Those bronze streaks were running turkeys ! 
The thumpingr were made by their rapidly 
moving feet! 

"Don't they flush fly?" Ken queried of 

" No no shoot !" exclaimed he, as another 


streak of brown crossed an open spot. Ken 
hurriedly unbreached his gun and changed 
the light shells for others loaded with heavy 
shot. He reached the edge of a bare spot 
across which a turkey ran with incredible 
swiftness. He did not get the gun in line 
with it at all. Then two more broke out 
of the bushes. Run! They were as swift as 
flying quail. Ken took two snap-shots, and 
missed both times. If any one had told him 
that he would miss a running turkey at fifty 
feet, he would have been insulted. But he 
did not loosen a feather. Loading again, he 
yelled for George. 

' ' Hey, George turkeys ! ' ' 

He whooped, and started across on the 

"Gee!" said Hal. "Ken, I couldn't do 
any worse shooting than you. Let me take 
a few pegs." 

Ken handed over the heavy gun and fell 
back a little, giving Hal the lead. They 
walked on, peering closely into the bushes. 
Suddenly a beautiful big gobbler ran out of a 
thicket, and then stopped to stretch out his 
long neck and look. 

"Shoot hurry!" whispered Ken. "What 
a chance!" 

"That's a tame turkey," said Hal. 



'Tame! Why, you tenderfoot! He's as 
wild as wild. Can't you see that?" 

Ken's excitement and Pepe's intense eager- 
ness all at once seemed communicated to Hal. 
He hauled up the gun, fingered the triggers 
awkwardly, then shot both barrels. He tore 
a tremendous hole in the brush some few feet 
to one side of the turkey. Then the great 
bird ran swiftly out of sight. 

"Didn't want to kill him sitting, anyhow," 
said Hal, handing the gun back to Ken. 

''We want to eat some wild turkey, don't 
we? Well, we'd better take any chance. 
These birds are game, Hal, and don't you 
forget that!" 

"What's all the shooting?" panted George, 
as he joined the march. 

Just then there was a roar in the bushes, 
and a brown blur rose and whizzed ahead like 
a huge bullet. That turkey had flushed. 
Ken watched him fly till he went down out 
of sight into a distant swale. 

"Pretty nifty flier, eh?" said George. 
"He was too quick for me." 

"Great!" replied Ken. 

There was another roar, and a huge bronze 
cannon-ball sped straight ahead. Ken shot 
both barrels, then George shot one, all clean 
misses. Ken watched this turkey fly, and saw 



him clearer. He had to admit that the wild 
turkey of the Tamaulipas jungle had a 
swifter and more beautiful flight than his 
favorite bird, the ruffled grouse. 

' ' Walk faster, ' ' said George. ' ' They'll flush 
better. I don't see how I'm to hit one. This 
goose I'm carrying weighs about a ton." 

The hunters hurried along, crashing through 
the bushes. They saw turkey after turkey. 
Bang! went George's gun. 

Then a beautiful sight made Ken cry out 
and forget to shoot. Six turkeys darted across 
an open patch how swiftly they ran! then 
rose in a bunch. The roar they made, the 
wonderfully rapid action of their powerful 
wings, and then the size of them, their wild- 
ness and noble gameness made them the royal 
game for Ken. 

At the next threshing in the bushes his gun 
was leveled ; he covered the whistling bronze 
thing that shot up. The turkey went down 
with a crash. Pepe yelled, and as he ran 
forward the air all about him was full of fine 
bronze feathers. Ken hurried forward to 
see his bird. Its strength and symmetry, 
and especially the beautiful shades of bronze, 
captivated his eye. 

"Come on, boys this is the greatest game 
I ever hunted," he called. 

1 66 


Again Pepe yelled, and this time he pointed. 
From where Ken stood he could not see any- 
thing except low, green bushes. In great 
excitement George threw up his gun and shot. 
Ken heard a squealing. 

1 ' Javelin I Javelin !" yelled Pepe, in piercing 

George jerked a rifle from him and began to 
shoot. Hal pumped his .22 into the bushes. 
The trampling of hard little hoofs and a 
cloud of dust warned Ken where the javelin 
were. Suddenly Pepe broke and fled for the 

"Hyar, Pepe, fetch back my rifle," shouted 
Ken, angrily. 

Pepe ran all the faster. 

George turned and dashed away yelling: 
"Wild pigs! Wild pigs!" 

"Look out, Ken! Run! Run!" added Hal; 
and he likewise took to his heels. 

It looked as if there was nothing else for Ken 
to do but to make tracks from that vicinity. 
Never before had he run from a danger which 
he had not seen ; but the flight of the boys was 
irresistibly contagious, and this, coupled with 
the many stories he had heard of the javelin, 
made Ken execute a sprint that would have 
been a record but for the hampering weight 
of gun and turkey. He vowed he would hold 

12 167 


on to both, pigs or no pigs; nevertheless he 
listened as he ran and nervously looked back 
often. It may have been excited imagination 
that the dust-cloud appeared to be traveling 
in his wake. Fortunately, the distance to the 
river did not exceed a short quarter of a mile. 
Hot, winded, and thoroughly disgusted with 
himself, Ken halted on the bank. Pepe was 
already in the boat, and George was scram- 
bling aboard. 

"A fine chase you've given me," Ken 
panted. "There's nothing after us." 

"Don't you fool yourself," returned George, 
quickly. "I saw those pigs, and, like the ass 
I am, I blazed away at one with my shotgun." 

"Did he run at you? That's what I want 
to know?" demanded Ken. 

George said he was not certain about that, 
but declared there always was danger if a 
wounded javelin squealed. Pepe had little 
to say; he refused to go back after the deer 
left in the trail. So they rowed across the 
shoal, and on the way passed within a rod of a 
big crocodile. 

' ' Look at that fellow, ' ' cried George. ' ' Wish 
I had my rifle loaded. He's fifteen feet long." 

"Oh no, George, he's not more than ten 
feet," said Ken. 

"You don't see his tail. He's a whopper. 


Pepe told me there was one in this pool. 
We'll get him, all right." 

They reached camp tired out, and all a 
little ruffled in temper, which certainly was 
not eased by the discovery that they were 
covered with ticks. Following the cue of his 
companions, Ken hurriedly stripped off his 
clothes and hung them where they could 
singe over the camp-fire. There were broad 
red bands of pinilius round both ankles, and 
reddish patches on the skin of his arms. Here 
and there were black spots about the size 
of his little finger-nail, and these were garrapa- 
toes. He picked these off one by one, rather 
surprised to find them come off so easily. 
Suddenly he jumped straight up with a pain 
as fierce as if it had been a puncture from a 
red-hot wire. 

Pepe grinned ; and George cried : 

"Aha! that was a garrapato bite, that was! 
You just wait!" 

George had a hundred or more of the big 
black ticks upon him, and he was remorse- 
lessly popping them with his cigarette. Some 
of them were biting him, too, judging from the 
way he flinched. Pepe had attracted to him- 
self a million or more of the pinilius, but very 
few of the larger pests. He generously came 
to Ken's assistance. Ken was trying to pull 



off the garrapato that had bitten a hole in 
him. Pepe said it had embedded its head, 
and if pulled would come apart, leaving the 
head buried in the flesh, which would cause 
inflammation. Pepe held the glowing end 
of his cigarette close over the tick, and it 
began to squirm and pull out its head. When 
it was free of the flesh Pepe suddenly touched 
it with the cigarette, and it exploded with a 
pop. A difficult question was: Which hurt 
Ken the most, the burn from the cigarette or 
the bite of the tick? Pepe scraped off as many 
pinilius as would come, and then rubbed 
Ken with cany a, the native alcohol. If this 
was not some kind of vitriol, Ken missed his 
guess. It smarted so keenly he thought his 
skin was peeling off. Presently, however, 
the smarting subsided, and so did the ticks. 

Hal, who by far was the most sensitive one 
in regard to the crawling and biting of the 
jungle pests, had been remarkably fortunate 
in escaping them. So he made good use of 
his opportunity to poke fun at the others, 
particularly Ken. 

George snapped out: "Just wait, Hollering 

"Don't you call me that!" said Hal, bel- 

Ken eyed his brother in silence, but with 


a dark, meaning glance. It had occurred to 
Ken that here in this jungle was the only place 
in the world where he could hope to pay off 
old scores on Hal. And plots began to form 
in his mind. 

They lounged about camp, resting in the 
shade during the hot midday hours. For 
supper they had a superfluity of meat, the 
waste of which Ken deplored, and he as- 
suaged his conscience by deciding to have 
a taste of each kind. The wild turkey he 
found the most toothsome, delicious meat it 
had ever been his pleasure to eat. What 
struck him at once was the flavor, and he 
could not understand it until Pepe explained 
that the jungle turkey lived upon a red pepper. 
So the Tamaulipas wild turkey turned out 
to be doubly the finest game he had ever 

All afternoon the big crocodile sunned him- 
self on the surface of the shoal. 

Ken wanted a crocodile-skin, and this was 
a chance to get one ; but he thought it as well 
to wait, and kept the boys from wasting am- 

Before sundown Pepe went across the river 
and fetched the deer carcass down to the sand- 
bar, where the jaguar-trail led to the water. 

At twilight Ken stationed the boys at the 


lower end of the island, ambushed behind 
stones. He placed George and Pepe some 
rods below his own position. They had 
George's .32 rifle, and the i6-gage loaded with 
a solid ball. Ken put Hal, with the double- 
barreled shotgun, also loaded with ball, some 
little distance above. And Ken, armed with 
his automatic, hid just opposite the deer- 

"Be careful where you shoot," Ken warned 
repeatedly. " Be cool think quick and aim." 

Ken settled down for a long wait, some 
fifty yards from the deer carcass. A wonder- 
ful procession of wild fowl winged swift 
flight over his head. They flew very low. 
It was strange to note the difference in the 
sound of their flying. The cranes and herons 
softly swished the air, the teal and canvas^ 
backs whirred by, and the great Muscovies 
whizzed like bullets. 

When the first deer came down to drink it 
was almost dark, and when they left the moon 
was up, though obscured by clouds. Faint 
sounds rose from the other side of the island. 
Ken listened until his ears ached, but he could 
hear nothing. Heavier clouds drifted over 
the moon. The deer carcass became indis- 
tinct, and then faded entirely, and the bar 
itself grew vague. He was about to give up 



watching for that night when he heard a faint 
rustling below. Following it came a grating 
or crunching of gravel. 

Bright flares split the darkness crack! 
crack! rang out George's rifle, then the heavy 
boom! boom! of the shotgun. 

"There he is!" yelled George. "He's down 
we got him there's two! Look out!" 

Boom! Boom! roared the heavy shotgun 
from Hal's covert. 

" George missed him ! I got him!" yelled 
Hal. "No, there he goes Ken ! Ken !" 

Ken caught the flash of a long gray body 
in the hazy gloom of the bar and took a 
quick shot at it. The steel- jacketed bullet 
scattered the gravel and then hummed over 
the bank. The gray body moved fast up the 
bank. Ken could just see it. He turned 
loose the little automatic and made the 
welkin ring. 



WHEN the echoes of the shots died away 
the stillness seemed all the deeper. No 
rustle in the brush or scuffle on the sand 
gave evidence of a wounded or dying jaguar. 
George and Hal and Pepe declared there 
were two tigers, and that they had hit one. 
Ken walked out upon the stones till he could 
see the opposite bar, but was not rewarded 
by a sight of dead game. Thereupon they 
returned to camp, somewhat discouraged at 
their ill luck, but planning another night- 

In the morning George complained that he 
did not feel well. Ken told him he had been 
eating too much fresh meat, and that he had 
better be careful. Then Ken set off alone, 
crossed the river, and found that the deer 
carcass was gone. In the sand near where 
it had lain were plenty of cat-tracks, but none 
of the big jaguar. Upon closer scrutiny he 
found the cat-tracks to be those of a panther. 



He had half dragged, half carried the carcass 
up one of the steep trails, but from that point 
there was no further trace. 

Ken struck out across the flat, intending 
to go as far as the jungle. Turtle-doves 
fluttered before him in numberless flocks. 
Far to one side he saw Muscovy ducks rising, 
sailing a few rods, then alighting. This 
occurred several times before he understood 
what it meant. There was probably a large 
flock feeding on the flat, and the ones in the 
rear were continually flying to get ahead of 
those to the fore. 

Several turkeys ran through the bushes 
before Ken, but as he was carrying a rifle 
he paid little heed to them. He kept a keen 
lookout for javelin. Two or three times he 
was tempted to turn off the trail into little 
bamboo hollows; this, however, owing to a 
repugnance to ticks, he did not do. Finally, 
as he neared the high moss-decked wall of 
the jungle, he came upon a runway leading 
through the bottom of a deep swale, and here 
he found tiger-tracks. 

Farther down the swale, under a great 
cluster of bamboo, he saw the scattered bones 
of several deer. Ken was sure that in this 
spot the lord of the jungle had feasted more 
than once. It was an open hollow, with the 



ground bare under the bamboos. The runway 
led on into dense, leafy jungle. Ken planned 
to bait that lair with a deer carcass and watch 
it during the late afternoon. 

First, it was necessary to get the deer. 
This might prove bothersome, for Ken's hands 
and wrists were already sprinkled with pini- 
lius, and he certainly did not want to stay very 
long in the brush. Ken imagined he felt an 
itching all the time, and writhed inside his 

"Say, blame you! bite!" he exclaimed, re- 
signedly, and stepped into the low bushes. 
He went up and out of the swale. Scarcely 
had he reached a level when he saw a troop 
of deer within easy range. Before they 
winded danger Ken shot, and the one he had 
singled out took a few bounds, then fell over 
sideways. The others ran off into the brush. 
Ken remembered that the old hunter on 
Penetier had told him how seldom a deer 
dropped at once. When he saw the work of 
the soft-nose .351 bullet, he no longer won- 
dered at this deer falling almost in his 

" If I ever hit a jaguar like that it will be all 
day with him," was Ken's comment. 

There were two things about hunting the 
jaguar that Ken had been bidden to keep in 



mind fierce aggressiveness and remarkable 
tenacity of life. 

Ken dragged the deer down into the bam- 
boo swale and skinned out a haunch. Next 
to wild -turkey meat, he liked venison best. 
He was glad to have that as an excuse, for 
killing these tame tropical deer seemed like 
murder to Ken. He left the carcass in a 
favorable place and then hurried back to camp. 

To Ken's relief, he managed to escape 
bringing any garrapatoes with him, but it 
took a half -hour to rid himself of the collec- 
tion of pinilius. 

"George, ask Pepe what's the difference 
between a garrapato and a pinilius," said 

"The big tick is the little one's mother," 
replied Pepe. 

"Gee! you fellows fuss a lot about ticks," 
said Hal, looking up from his task. He was 
building more pens to accommodate the 
turtles, snakes, snails, mice, and young birds 
that he had captured during the morning. 

Pepe said there were few ticks there in the 
uplands compared to the number down along 
the Panuco River. In the lowlands where 
the cattle roamed there were millions in every 
square rod. The under side of every leaf and 
blade of grass was red with ticks. The size 



of these pests depended on whether or not they 
got a chance to stick to a steer or any beast. 
They appeared to live indefinitely, but if they 
could not suck blood they could not grow. 
The pinilius grew into a garrapato, and a 
garrapato bred a hundred thousand pinilius 
in her body. Two singular things concern- 
ing these ticks were that they always crawled 
upward, and they vanished from the earth 
during the wet season. 

Ken soaked his Duxbax hunting-suit in 
kerosene in the hope that this method would 
enable him to spend a reasonable time hunt- 
ing. Then, while the other boys fished and 
played around, he waited for the long, hot 
hours to pass. It was cool in the shade, but 
the sunlight resembled the heat of fire. At 
last five o'clock came, and Ken put on the 
damp suit. Soaked with the oil, it was 
heavier and hotter than sealskin, and before 
he got across the river he was nearly roasted. 
The evening wind sprang up, and the gusts 
were like blasts from a furnace. Ken's body 
was bathed in perspiration; it ran down his 
wrists, over his hands, and wet the gun. 
This cure for ticks if it were one was 
worse than their bites. When he reached the 
shade of the bamboo swale it was none too 
soon for him. He threw off the coat, noticing 



there were more ticks upon it than at any 
time before. The bottom of his trousers, 
too, had gathered an exceeding quantity. He 
brushed them off, muttering the while that 
he believed they liked kerosene, and looked 
as if they were drinking it. Ken found it 
easy, however, to brush them off the wet 
Duxbax, and soon composed himself to rest 
and watch. 

The position chosen afforded Ken a clear 
view of the bare space under the bamboos 
and of the hollow where the runway disap- 
peared in the jungle. The deer carcass, 
which lay as he had left it, was about a hun- 
dred feet from him. This seemed rather 
close, but he had to accept it, for if he had 
moved farther away he could not have com- 
manded both points. 

Ken sat with his back against a clump of 
bamboos, the little rifle across his knees and 
an extra clip of cartridges on the ground 
at his left. After taking that position he 
determined not to move a yard when the tiger 
came, and to kill him. 

Ken went over in mind the lessons he had 
learned hunting bear in Penetier Forest with 
old Hiram Bent and lassoing lions on the 
wild north-rim of the Grand Canon. Ken 
knew that the thing for a hunter to do, when 



his quarry was dangerous, was to make up 
his mind beforehand. Ken had twelve power- 
ful shells that he could shoot in the half of 
twelve seconds. He would have been willing 
to face two jaguars. 

The sun set and the wind died down. 
What a relief was the cooling shade! The 
little breeze that was left fortunately blew at 
right angles to the swale, so that there did 
not seem much danger of the tiger winding 
Ken down the jungle runway. 

For long moments he was tense and alert. 
He listened till he thought he had almost 
lost the sense of hearing. The jungle leaves 
were whispering; the insects were humming. 
He had expected to hear myriad birds and 
see processions of deer, and perhaps a drove 
of javelin. But if any living creatures ven- 
tured near him it was without his knowledge. 
The hour between sunset and twilight passed 
a long wait; still he did not lose the feeling 
that something would happen. Ken's facul- 
ties of alertness tired, however, and needed 
distraction. So he took stock of the big 
clump of bamboos under which lay the deer 

It was a remarkable growth, that gracefully 
drooping cluster of slender bamboo poles. He 
remembered how, as a youngster, not many 

1 80 


years back, he had wondered where the 
fishing-poles came from. Here Ken counted 
one hundred and sixty-nine in a clump no 
larger than a barrel. They were yellow in 
color with black bands, and they rose straight 
for a few yards, then began to lean out, to 
bend slightly, at last to droop with their 
abundance of spiked leaves. Ken was get- 
ting down to a real, interested study of this 
species of jungle growth when a noise startled 

He straightened out of his lounging position 
and looked around. The sound puzzled him. 
He could not place its direction or name what 
it was. The jungle seemed strangely quiet. 
He listened. After a moment of waiting he 
again heard the sound. Instantly Ken was 
as tense and vibrating as a violin string. The 
thing he had heard was from the lungs of 
some jungle beast. He was almost ready to 
pronounce it a cough. Warily he glanced 
around, craning his neck. Then a deep, 
hoarse growl made him whirl. 

There stood a jaguar with head up and paw 
on the deer carcass. Ken imagined he felt 
perfectly cool, but he knew he was astounded. 
And even as he cautiously edged the rifle 
over his knee he took in the beautiful points 
of the jaguar. He was yellow, almost white, 



with black spots. He was short and stocky, 
with powerful stumpy bow-legs. But his 
head most amazed Ken. It was enormous. 
And the expression of his face was so sin- 
gularly savage and wild that Ken seemed to 
realize instantly the difference between a 
mountain-lion and this fierce tropical brute. 

The jaguar opened his jaws threateningly. 
He had an enormous stretch of jaw. His long, 
yellow fangs gleamed. He growled again. 

Not hurriedly, nor yet slowly, Ken fired. 

He heard the bullet strike him as plainly 
as if he had hit him with a board. He saw 
dust fly from his hide. Ken expected to see 
the jaguar roll over. Instead of that he leaped 
straight up with a terrible roar. Something 
within Ken shook. He felt cold and sick. 

When the jaguar came down, sprawled on 
all fours, Ken pulled the automatic again, 
and he saw the fur fly. Then the jaguar 
leaped forward with a strange, hoarse cry. 
Ken shot again, and knocked the beast flat. 
He tumbled and wrestled about, scattering the 
dust and brush. Three times more Ken fired, 
too hastily, and inflicted only slight wounds. 

In reloading Ken tried to be deliberate in 
snapping in the second clip and pushing down 
the rod that threw the shell into the barrel. 
But his hands shook. His fingers were all 



thumbs, and he fumbled at the breech of the 

In that interval, if the jaguar could have 
kept his sense of direction, he would have 
reached Ken. But the beast zigzagged; he 
had lost his equilibrium ; he was hard hit. 

Then he leaped magnificently. He landed 
within twenty -five feet of Ken, and when 
he plunged down he rolled clear over. Ken 
shot him through and through. Yet he got 
up, wheezing blood, uttering a hoarse bellow, 
and made again at Ken. 

Ken had been cold, sick. Now panic al- 
most overpowered him. The rifle wabbled. 
The bamboo glade blurred in his sight. A 
terrible dizziness and numbness almost para- 
lyzed him. He was weakening, sinking, when 
thought of life at stake lent him a momentary 
grim and desperate spirit. 

Once while the jaguar was in the air Ken 
pulled, twice while he was down. Then the 
jaguar stood up pawing the air with great, 
spread claws, coughing, bleeding, roaring. 
He was horrible. 

Ken shot him straight between the wide- 
spread paws. 

With twisted body, staggering, and blowing 
bloody froth all over Ken, the big tiger blindly 
lunged forward and crashed to earth. 

13 183 


Then began a furious wrestling. Ken imag- 
ined it was the death -throes of the jaguar. 
Ken could not see him down among the leaves 
and vines; nevertheless, he shot into the 
commotion. The struggles ceased. Then a 
movement of the weeds showed Ken that the 
jaguar was creeping toward the jungle. 

Ken fell rather than sat down. He found 
he was wringing wet with cold sweat. He was 
panting hard. 

"Say, but that was awful!" he gasped. 
* ' What was wrong with me ? ' ' 

He began to reload the clips. They were 
difficult to load for even a calm person, and 
now, in the reaction, Ken was the farthest 
removed from calm. The jaguar crept stead- 
ily away, as Ken could tell by the swaying 
weeds and shaking vines. 

"What a hard-lived beast !" muttered Ken. 
"I must have shot him all to pieces. Yet 
he's getting away from me." 

At last Ken's trembling fingers pushed 
some shells in the two clips, and once more 
he reloaded the rifle. Then he stood up, 
drew a deep, full breath, and made a strong 
effort at composure. 

"I've shot at bear and deer and lions 
out West , ' ' said Ken. "But this was different. 
I'll never get over it." 



How close that jaguar came to reaching 
Ken was proved by the blood coughed into 
his face. He recalled that he had felt the 
wind of one great sweeping paw. 

Ken regained his courage and determina- 
tion. He meant to have that beautiful 
spotted skin for his den. So he hurried along 
the runway and entered the jungle. Beyond 
the edge, where the bushes made a dense 
thicket, it was dry forest, with little green 
low down. The hollow gave place to a dry 
wash. He could not see the jaguar, but he 
could hear him dragging himself through the 
brush, cracking sticks, shaking saplings. 

Presently Ken ran across a bloody trail 
and followed it. Every little while he would 
stop to listen. When the wounded jaguar 
was still, he waited until he started to move 
again. It was hard going. The brush was 
thick, and had to be broken and crawled 
under or through. As Ken had left his coat 
behind, his shirt was soon torn to rags. He 
peered ahead with sharp eyes, expecting every 
minute to come in sight of the poor, crippled 
beast. He wanted to put him out of agony. 
So he kept on doggedly for what must have 
been a long time. 

The first premonition he had of careless- 
ness was to note that the shadows were 


gathering in the jungle. It would soon be 
night. He must turn back while there was 
light enough to follow his back track out 
to the open. The second came in shape of 
a hot pain in his arm, as keen as if he had 
jagged it with a thorn. Holding it out, he 
discovered to his dismay that it was spotted 
with garrapatoes. 


AT once Ken turned back, and if he thought 
** again of the jaguar it was that he could 
come after him the next day or send Pepe. 
Another vicious bite, this time on his leg, 
confirmed his suspicions that many of the 
ticks had been on him long enough to get 
their heads in. Then he was bitten in several 

Those bites were as hot as the touch of a 
live coal, yet they made Ken break out in 
dripping cold sweat. It was imperative that 
he get back to camp without losing a moment 
which could be saved. From a rapid walk 
he fell into a trot. He got off his back trail 
and had to hunt for it. Every time a tick 
bit he jumped as if stung. The worst of it 
ftras that he knew he was collecting more 
garrapatoes with almost every step. When 
he grasped a dead branch to push it out of 
the way he could feel the ticks cling to his 
hand. Then he would whip his arm in the 



air, flinging some of them off to patter on the 
dry ground. Impossible as it was to run 
through that matted jungle, Ken almost ac- 
complished it. When he got out into the 
open he did run, not even stopping for his 
coat, and he crossed the flat at top speed. 

It was almost dark when Ken reached the 
river-bank and dashed down to frighten a 
herd of drinking deer. He waded the narrow- 
est part of the shoal. Running up the island 
he burst into the bright circle of camp-fire. 
Pepe dropped a stew-pan and began to jabber. 
George dove for a gun. 

"What's after you?" shouted Hal, in 

Ken was so choked up and breathless that 
at first he could not speak. His fierce aspect 
and actions, as he tore off his sleeveless and 
ragged shirt and threw it into the fire, added 
to the boys' fright. 

"Good Lord! are you bug-house, Ken?" 
shrieked Hal. 

"Bug-house! Yes!" roared Ken, swiftly un- 
dressing. "Look at me!" 

In the bright glare he showed his arms 
black with garrapatoes and a sprinkling of 
black dots over the rest of his body. 

"Is that all?" demanded Hal, in real or 
simulated scorn. "Gee! but you're a brave 

1 88 


hunter. I thought not less than six tigers 
were after you." 

"I'd rather have six tigers after me," 
yelled Ken. "You little freckle-faced red- 

It was seldom indeed that Ken called his 
brother that name. Hal was proof against 
any epithets except that one relating to his 
freckles and his hair. But just now Ken 
felt that he was being eaten alive. He was 
in an agony, and he lost his temper. And 
therefore he laid himself open to Hal's sca- 
thing humor. 

"Never mind the kid," said Ken to Pepe 
and George. ' ' Hurry now, and get busy with 
these devils on me." 

It was well for Ken that he had a native 
like Pepe with him. For Pepe knew just 
what to do. First he dashed a bucket of cold 
water over Ken. How welcome that was! 

"Pepe says for you to point out the ticks 
that 're biting the hardest," said George. 

In spite of his pain Ken stared in mute 

"Pepe wants you to point out the ticks 
that are digging in the deepest," explained 
George. "Get a move on, now." 

"What!" roared Ken, glaring at Pepe and 
George. He thought even the native might 



be having fun with him. And for Ken this 
was not a funny time. 

But Pepe was in dead earnest. 

"Say, it's impossible to tell where I'm being 
bitten most! It's all over!" protested Ken. 

Still he discovered that by absolute con- 
centration on the pain he was enduring he 
was able to locate the severest points. And 
that showed him the soundness of Pepe's 

"Here this one here there. . . . Oh! 
here," began Ken, indicating certain ticks. 

"Not so fast, now," interrupted the im- 
perturbable George, as he and Pepe set to 
work upon Ken. 

Then the red-hot cigarette-tips scorched 
Ken's skin. Ken kept pointing and accom- 
panying his directions with wild gestures 
and exclamations. 

"Here. . . . Oo-oo! Here. . . .Wow! Here. 
. . .Ouch! that one stung! Here .... Augh! 
Say, can't you hurry? Here! ... Oh! that 
one was in a mile! Here. . . . Hold on! 
You're burning a hole in me! . . . George, 
you're having fun out of this. Pepe gets two 
to your one." 

"He's been popping ticks all his life," was 
George's reasonable protest. 

"Hurry!" cried Ken, in desperation. 


"George, if you monkey round fool over 
this job I'll I'll punch you good." 

All this trying time Hal Ward sat on a 
log and watched the proceedings with great 
interest and humor. Sometimes he smiled, 
at others he laughed, and yet again he burst 
out into uproarious mirth. 

"George, he wouldn't punch anybody," 
said Hal. "I tell you he's all in. He hasn't 
any nerve left. It's a chance of your life. 
You'll never get another. He's been bossing 
you around. Pay him up. Make him holler. 
Why, what's a few little ticks? Wouldn't 
phase me! But Ken Ward's such a delicate, 
fine-skinned, sensitive, girly kind of a boy! 
He's too nice to be bitten by bugs. Oh 
dear, yes, yes! . . . Ken, why don't you show 

Ken shook his fist at Hal. 

"All right," said Ken, grimly. "Have all 
the fun you can. Because I'll get even with 

Hal relapsed into silence, and Ken began to 
believe he had intimidated his brother. But 
he soon realized how foolish it was to suppose 
such a thing. Hal had only been working 
his fertile brain. 

"George, here's a little verse for the oc- 
casion," said Hal. 



"There was a brave hunter named Ken, 
And he loved to get skins for his den, 
Not afraid was he of tigers or pigs, 
Or snakes or cats or any such things, 
But one day in the jungle he left his clothes, 
And came hollering back with garrapatoes." 

"Gre-at-t-t!" sputtered Ken. "Oh, brother 
mine, we're a long way from home. I'll 
make you crawl." 

Pepe smoked and wore out three cigarettes, 
and George two, before they had popped all 
the biting ticks. Then Ken was still covered 
with them. Pepe bathed him in cany a, 
which was like a bath of fire, and soon removed 
them all. Ken felt flayed alive, peeled of his 
skin, and sprinkled with fiery sparks. When 
he lay down he was as weak as a sick cat. 
Pepe said the canya would very soon take the 
sting away, but it was some time before Ken 
was resting easily. 

It would not have been fair to ask Ken just 
then whether the prize for which he worked 
was worth his present gain. Garrapatoes may 
not seem important to one who simply reads 
about them, but such pests are a formidable 
feature of tropical life. 

However, Ken presently felt that he was 
himself again. 

Then he put his mind to the serious prob- 


lem of his note-book and the plotting of the 
island. As far as his trip was concerned, 
Cypress Island was an important point. 
When he had completed his map down to 
the island, he went on to his notes. He be- 
lieved that what he had found out from his 
knowledge of forestry was really worth some- 
thing. He had seen a gradual increase in the 
size and number of trees as he had proceeded 
down the river, a difference in the density and 
color of the jungle, a flattening-out of the 
mountain range, and a gradual change from 
rocky to clayey soil. And on the whole his 
note-book began to assume such a character 
that he was beginning to feel willing to submit 
it to his uncle. 



"PHAT night Ken talked natural history to 
1 the boys and read extracts from a small 
copy of Sclater he had brought with him. 

They were all particularly interested in the 
cat tribe. 

The fore feet of all cats have five toes, the 
hind feet only four. Their claws are curved 
and sharp, and, except in case of one species 
of leopard, can be retracted in their sheaths. 
The claws of the great cat species are kept 
sharp by pulling them down through bark 
of trees. All cats walk on their toes. And 
the stealthy walk is due to hairy pads or 
cushions. The claws of a cat do not show in 
its track as do those of a dog. The tongues 
of all cats are furnished with large papillae. 
They are like files, and the use is to lick bones 
and clean their fur. Their long whiskers are 
delicate organs of perception to aid them in 
finding their way on their night quests. The 
eyes of all cats are large and full, and can be 



altered by contraction or expansion of iris, 
according to the amount of light they receive. 
The usual color is gray or tawny with dark 
spots or stripes. The uniform tawny color 
of the lion and the panther is perhaps an 
acquired color, probably from the habit of 
these animals of living in desert countries. It 
is likely that in primitive times cats were all 
spotted or striped. 

Naturally the boys were most interested 
in the jaguar, which is the largest of the cat 
tribe in the New World. The jaguar ranges 
from northern Mexico to northern Patagonia. 
Its spots are larger than those of the leopard. 
Their ground color is a rich tan or yellow, 
sometimes almost gold. Large specimens 
have been known nearly seven feet from nose 
to end of tail. 

The jaguar is an expert climber and swim- 
mer. Humboldt says that where the South 
American forests are subject to floods the 
jaguar sometimes takes to tree life, living on 
monkeys. All naturalists agree on the fero- 
cious nature of jaguars, and on the loudness 
and frequency of their cries. There is no 
record of their attacking human beings with- 
out provocation. Their favorite haunts are 
the banks of jungle rivers, and they often prey 
upon fish and turtles. 



The attack of a jaguar is terrible. It 
leaps on the back of its prey and breaks its 
neck. In some places there are well-known 
scratching trees where jaguars sharpen their 
claws. The bark is worn smooth in front 
from contact with the breasts of the animals 
as they stand up, and there is a deep groove 
on each side. When new scars appear on 
these trees it is known that jaguars are in the 
vicinity. The cry of the jaguar is loud, deep, 
hoarse, something like pu, pu, pu. There is 
much enmity between the panther, or moun- 
tain-lion, and the jaguar, and it is very strange 
that generally the jaguar fears the lion, al- 
though he is larger and more powerful. 

Pepe had interesting things to say about 
jaguars, or tigres, as he called them. But 
Ken, of course, could not tell how much 
Pepe said was truth and how much just native 
talk. At any rate, Pepe told of one Mexican 
who had a blind and deaf jaguar that he had 
tamed. Ken knew that naturalists claimed 
the jaguar could not be tamed, but in this 
instance Ken was inclined to believe Pepe. 
This blind jaguar was enormous in size, 
terrible of aspect, and had been trained to 
trail anything his master set him to. And 
Tigre, as he was called, never slept or stopped 
till he had killed the thing he was trailing. 



As he was blind and deaf, his power of scent 
had been abnormally developed. 

Pepe told of a fight between a huge crocodile 
and a jaguar in which both were killed. He 
said jaguars stalked natives and had abso- 
lutely no fear. He knew natives who said that 
jaguars had made off with children and eaten 
them. Lastly, Pepe told of an incident that 
had happened in Tampico the year before. 
There was a ship at dock below Tampico, 
just on the outskirts where the jungle began, 
and one day at noon two big jaguars leaped 
on the deck. They frightened the crew out 
of their wits. George verified this story, and 
added that the jaguars had been chased by 
dogs, had boarded the ship, where they 
climbed into the rigging, and stayed there 
till they were shot. 

"Well," said Ken, thoughtfully, "from my 
experience I believe a jaguar would do any- 

The following day promised to be a busy 
one for Hal, without any time for tricks. 
George went hunting before breakfast in 
fact, before the others were up and just as 
the boys were sitting down to eat he appeared 
on the nearer bank and yelled for Pepe. 
It developed that for once George had bagged 



He had a black squirrel, a small striped wild- 
cat, a peccary, a three-foot crocodile, and a 
duck of rare plumage. 

After breakfast Hal straightway got busy, 
and his skill and knowledge earned praise 
from George and Pepe. They volunteered 
to help, which offer Hal gratefully accepted. 
He had brought along a folding canvas tank, 
forceps, knives, scissors, several packages of 
preservatives, and tin boxes in which to pack 
small skins. 

His first task was to mix a salt solution 
in the canvas tank. This was for immersing 
skins. Then he made a paste of salt and 
alum, and after that a mixture of two-thirds 
glycerin and one-third water and carbolic 
acid, which was for preserving small skins 
and to keep them soft. 

And as he worked he gave George direc- 
tions on how to proceed with the wildcat 
and squirrel skins. 

"Skin carefully and tack up the pelts fur 
side down. Scrape off all the fat and oil, 
but don't scrape through. To-morrow when 
the skins are dry soak them in cold water 
till soft. Then take them out and squeeze 
dry. I'll make a solution of three quarts 
water, one-half pint salt, and one ounce oil 
of vitriol. Put the skins in that for half an 



hour. Squeeze dry again, and hang in shade. 
That '11 tan the skin, and the moths will never 
hurt them." 

When Hal came to take up the duck he 
was sorry that some of the beautiful plumage 
had been stained. 

"I want only a few water-fowl," he said. 
"And particularly one of the big Muscovies. 
And you must keep the feathers from getting 

It was interesting to watch Hal handle 
that specimen. First he took full measure- 
ments. Then, separating the feathers along 
the breast, he made an incision with a sharp 
knife, beginning high up on breast-bone and 
ending at tail. He exercised care so as not 
to cut through the abdomen. Raising the skin 
carefully along the cut as far as the muscles of 
the leg, he pushed out the knee joint and cut it 
off. Then he loosened the skin from the legs 
and the back, and bent the tail down to cut 
through the tail joint. Next he removed the 
skin from the body and cut off the wings at 
the shoulder joint. Then he proceeded down 
the neck, being careful not to pull or stretch the 
skin. Extreme care was necessary in cutting 
round the eyes. Then, when he had loosened 
the skin from the skull, he severed the head 
and cleaned out the skull. He coated all 

14 199 


with the paste, filled the skull with cotton, 
and then immersed them in the glycerin 

The skinning of the crocodile was an easy 
matter compared with that of the duck. Hal 
made an incision at the throat, cut along the 
middle of the abdomen all the way to the tip 
of the tail, and then cut the skin away all 
around the carcass. Then he set George and 
Pepe to scraping the skin, after which he 
immersed it in the tank. 

About that time Ken, who was lazily fishing 
in the shade of the cypresses, caught one of 
the blue-tailed fish. Hal was delighted. He 
had made a failure of the other specimen of 
this unknown fish. This one was larger and 
exquisitely marked, being dark gold on the 
back, white along the belly, and its tail had 
a faint bluish tinge. Hal promptly killed 
the fish, and then made a dive for his suit- 
case. He produced several sheets of stiff 
cardboard and a small box of water-colors 
and brushes. He laid the fish down on a 
piece of paper and outlined its exact size. 
Then, placing it carefully in an upright 
position on a box, he began to paint it in the 
actual colors of the moment. Ken laughed 
and teased him. George also was inclined to 
be amused. But Pepe was amazed and de- 



lighted. Hal worked on unmindful of his 
audience, and, though he did not paint a very 
artistic picture, he produced the vivid colors 
of the fish before they faded. 

His next move was to cover the fish with 
strips of thin cloth, which adhered to the scales 
and kept them from being damaged. Then he 
cut along the middle line of the belly, divided 
the pelvic arch where the ventral fins joined, 
cut through the spines, and severed the fins 
from the bones. Then he skinned down to the 
tail, up to the back, and cut through caudal 
processes. The vertebral column he severed 
at the base of the skull. He cleaned and 
scraped the entire inside of the skin, and then 
put it to soak. 

"Hal, you're much more likely to make good 
with Uncle Jim than I am," said Ken. 
"You've really got skill, and you know what 
to do. Now, my job is different. So far 
I've done fairly well with my map of the river. 
But as soon as we get on level ground I'll 
be stumped." 

"We'll cover a hundred miles before we get 
to low land," replied Hal, cheerily. "That's 
enough, even if we do get lost for the rest 
of the way. You'll win that trip abroad, 
Ken, never fear, and little Willie is going 
to be with you." 




NEXT morning Hal arose bright as a lark, 
but silent, mysterious, and with far- 
seeing eyes. It made Ken groan in spirit to 
look at the boy. Yes, indeed, they were far 
from home, and the person did not live on the 
earth who could play a trick on Hal Ward 
and escape vengeance. 

After breakfast Hal went off with a long- 
handled landing-net, obviously to capture 
birds or fish or mice or something. 

George said he did not feel very well, and 
he looked grouchy. He growled around camp 
in a way that might have nettled Ken, but 
Ken, having had ten hours of undisturbed sleep, 
could not have found fault with anybody. 

"Garrapato George, come out of it. Cheer 
up," said Ken. "Why don't you take Pini- 
lius Pepe as gun-bearer and go out to shoot 
something? You haven't used up much am- 
munition yet." 

Ken's sarcasm was not lost upon George. 


"Well, if I do go, I'll not come running 
back to camp without some game." 

"My son," replied Ken, genially, "if you 
should happen to meet a jaguar you'd you'd 
just let out one squawk and then never touch 
even the high places of the jungle. You'd 
take that crazy .32 rifle for a golf -stick." 

"Would I?" returned George. "All right." 

Ken watched George awhile that morning. 
The lad performed a lot of weird things around 
camp. Then he bounced bullets off the water 
in vain effort to locate the basking crocodile. 
Then he tried his hand at fishing once more. 
He could get more bites than any fisherman 
Ken ever saw, but he could not catch any- 

By and by the heat made Ken drowsy, 
and, stretching himself in the shade, he 
thought of a scheme to rid the camp of the 
noisy George. 

"Say, George, take my hammerless and get 
Pepe to row you up along the shady bank of 
the river," suggested Ken. "Go sneaking 
along and you'll have some sport." 

George was delighted with that idea. He 
had often cast longing eyes at the hammerless 
gun. Pepe, too, looked exceedingly pleased. 
They got in the boat and were in the act of 
starting when George jumped ashore. He 



reached for his .32 and threw the lever down 
to see if there was a shell in the chamber. 
Then he proceeded to fill his pockets with 

"Might need a rifle," he said. "You can't 
tell what you're going to see in this unholy 

Whereupon he went aboard again and Pepe 
rowed leisurely up-stream. 

"Be careful, boys," Ken called, and com- 
posed himself for a nap. He promptly fell 
asleep. How long he slept he had no idea, 
and when he awoke he lay with languor, not 
knowing at the moment what had awakened 
him. Presently he heard a shout, then a 
rifle-shot. Sitting up, he saw the boat some 
two hundred yards above, drifting along 
about the edge of the shade. Pepe was in it 
alone. He appeared to be excited, for Ken 
observed him lay down an oar and pick up a 
gun, and then reverse the performance. Also 
he was jabbering to George, who evidently 
was out on the bank, but invisible to Ken. 

"Hey, Pepe!" Ken yelled. "What 're you 

Strange to note, Pepe did not reply or even 

"Now where in the deuce is George?" Ken 
said, impatiently. 



The hollow crack of George's .32 was a 
reply to the question. Ken heard the sing- 
ing of a bullet. Suddenly, spou! it twanged 
on a branch not twenty feet over his head, 
and then went whining away. He heard it 
tick a few leaves or twigs. There was not 
any languor in the alacrity with which Ken 
put the big cypress-tree between him and 
up-stream. Then he ventured to peep 

"Look out where you're slinging lead!" 
he yelled. He doubted not that George had 
treed a black squirrel or was pegging away at 
parrots. Yet Pepe's motions appeared to 
carry a good deal of feeling, too much, he 
thought presently, for small game. So Ken 
began to wake up thoroughly. He lost sight 
of Pepe behind a low branch of a tree that 
leaned some fifty yards above the island. 
Then he caught sight of him again. He was 
poling with an oar, evidently trying to go up 
or down Ken could not tell which. 

Spang! Spang! George's .32 spoke twice 
more, and the bullets both struck in the middle 
of the stream and ricochetted into the far 
bank with little thuds. 

Something prompted Ken to reach for his 
automatic, snap the clip in tight, and push 
in the safety. At the same time he muttered 



George's words: "You can never tell what's 
coming off in this unholy jungle." 

Then, peeping out from behind the cypress, 
Ken watched the boat drift down-stream. 
Pepe had stopped poling and was looking 
closely into the thick grass and vines of the 
bank. Ken heard his voice, but could not 
tell what he said. He watched keenly for 
some sight of George. The moments passed, 
the boat drifted, and Ken began to think 
there was nothing unusual afoot. In this 
interval Pepe drifted within seventy-five yards 
of camp. Again Ken called to ask him what 
George was stalking, and this time Pepe yelled ; 
but Ken did not know what he said. Hard 
upon this came George's sharp voice: 

"Look out, there, on the island. Get be- 
hind something. I've got him between the 
river and the flat. He's in this strip of shore 
brush. There!" 

Spang! Spang! Spang! Bullets hummed 
and whistled all about the island. Ken was 
afraid to peep out with even one eye. He 
began to fancy that George was playing 

"Fine, Georgie! You're doing great!" he 
shouted. "You couldn't come any closer to 
me if you were aiming at me. What is it?" 

Then a crashing of brush and a flash of 


yellow low down along the bank changed the 
aspect of the situation. 

"Panther! or jaguar!" Ken ejaculated, in 
amaze. In a second he was tight-muscled, 
cold, and clear-witted. At that instant he 
saw George's white shirt about the top of the 

"Go back! Get out in the open!" Ken 
ordered. "Do you hear me?" 

"Where is he?" shouted George, paying not 
the slightest attention to Ken. Ken jumped 
from behind the tree, and, running to the 
head of the island, he knelt low near the water 
with rifle ready. 

"Tigre! Tigre! Tigre!" screamed Pepe, 
waving his arms, then pointing. 

George crashed into the brush. Ken saw 
the leaves move, then a long yellow shape. 
With the quickness of thought and the aim 
of the wing-shot, Ken fired. From the brush 
rose a strange wild scream. George aimed 
at a shaking mass of grass and vines, but, 
before he could fire, a long, lean, ugly beast 
leaped straight out from the bank to drop 
into the water with a heavy splash. 

Like a man half scared to death Pepe waved 
Ken's double-barreled gun. Then a yellow 
head emerged from the water. It was in line 
with the boat. Ken dared not shoot. 



"Kill him, George," yelled Ken. "Tell 
Pepe to kiU him." 

George seemed unaccountably silent. But 
Ken had no time to look for him, for his 
eyes were riveted on Pepe. The native did 
not know how to hold a gun properly, let 
alone aim it. He had, however, sense enough 
to try. He got the stock under his chin, 
and, pointing the gun, he evidently tried to 
fire. But the hammerless did not go off. 
Then Pepe fumbled at the safety-catch, which 
he evidently remembered seeing Ken use. 

The jaguar, swimming with difficulty, per- 
haps badly wounded, made right for the boat. 
Pepe was standing on the seat. Awkwardly 
he aimed. 

Boom! He had pulled both triggers. The 
recoil knocked him backward. The hammer- 
less fell in the boat, and Pepe's broad back hit 
the water; his bare, muscular legs clung to 
the gunwale, and slipped loose. 

He had missed the jaguar, for it kept on 
toward the boat. Still Ken dared not shoot. 

' ' George, what on earth is the matter with 
you?" shouted Ken. 

Then Ken saw him standing in the brush 
on the bank, fussing over the crazy .32. Of 
course at the critical moment something had 
gone wrong with the old rifle, 



Pepe's head bobbed up just on the other 
side of the boat. The jaguar was scarcely 
twenty feet distant and now in line with both 
boat and man. At that instant a heavy swirl 
in the water toward the middle of the river 
drew Ken's attention. He saw the big croc- 
odile, and the great creature did not seem at 
all lazy at that moment. 

George began to scream in Spanish. Ken 
felt his hair stiffen and his face blanch. Pepe, 
who had been solely occupied with the 
jaguar, caught George's meaning and turned 
to see the peril in his rear. 

He bawled his familiar appeal to the saints. 
Then he grasped the gunwale of the boat 
just as it swung against the branches of the 
low-leaning tree. He vaulted rather than 
climbed aboard. 

Ken forgot that Pepe could understand 
little English, and he yelled: "Grab an oar, 
Pepe. Keep the jaguar in the water. Don't 
let him in the boat." 

But Pepe, even if he had understood, had 
a better idea. Nimble, he ran over the boat 
and grasped the branches of the tree just as 
the jaguar flopped paws and head over the 
stern gunwale. 

Ken had only a fleeting instant to get a 
bead on that yellow body, and before he could 



be sure of an aim the branch weighted with 
Pepe sank down to hide both boat and 
jaguar. The chill of fear for Pepe changed to 
hot rage at this new difficulty. 

Then George began to shoot. 


Ken heard the bullet hit the boat. 

"George wait!" shouted Ken. "Don't 
shoot holes in the boat. You'll sink it." 

Spang! Spang! Spang! Spang! 

That was as much as George cared about 
such a possibility. He stood on the bank and 
worked the lever of his .32 with wild haste. 
Ken plainly heard the spat of the bullets, and 
the sound was that of lead in contact with 
wood. So he knew George was not hitting 
the jaguar. 

"You'll ruin the boat!" roared Ken. 

Pepe had worked up from the lower end 
of the branch, and as soon as he straddled 
it and hunched himself nearer shore the foli- 
age rose out of the water, exposing the boat. 
George kept on shooting till his magazine was 
empty. Ken's position was too low for him 
to see the jaguar. 

Then the boat swung loose from the branch 
and, drifting down, gradually approached the 

"Pull yourself together, George," called 



Ken. "Keep cool. Make sure of your aim. 
We've got him now." 

"He's mine! He's mine! He's mine! 
Don't you dare shoot!" howled George. "I 
got him!" 

"All right. But steady up, can't you? 
Hit him once, anyway." 

Apparently without aim George fired. Then, 
jerking the lever, he fired again. The boat 
drifted into overhanging vines. Once more 
Ken saw a yellow and black object, then a 
trembling trail of leaves. 

"He's coming out below you. Look out," 
yelled Ken. 

George disappeared. Ken saw no sign of 
the jaguar and heard no shot or shout from 
George. Pepe dropped from his branch to 
the bank and caught the boat. Ken called, 
and while Pepe rowed over to the island, he 
got into some clothes fit to hunt in. Then 
they hurried back across the channel to the 

Ken found the trail of the jaguar, followed 
it up to the edge of the brush, and lost it in 
the weedy flat. George came out of a patch 
of bamboos. He looked white and shaky 
and wild with disappointment. 

"Oh, I had a dandy shot as he came out, 
but the blamed gun jammed again. Come 



on, we'll get him. He's all shot up. I bet 
I hit him ten times. He won't get away." 

Ken finally got George back to camp. The 
boat was half full of water, making it necessary 
to pull it out on the bank and turn it over. 
There were ten bullet -holes in it. 

"George, you hit the boat, anyway," Ken 
said; "now we've a job on our hands." 

Hal came puffing into camp. He was red 
of face, and the sweat stood out on his fore- 
head. He had a small animal of some kind 
in a sack, and his legs were wet to his knees. 

"What was all the pegging about?" he 
asked, breathlessly. " I expected to find camp 
surrounded by Indians." 

"Kid, it's been pretty hot round here for a 
little. George and Pepe rounded up a tiger. 
Tell us about it, George," said Ken. 

So while Ken began to whittle pegs to 
pound into the bullet-holes, George wiped his 
flushed, sweaty face and talked. 

"We were up there a piece, round the bend. 
I saw a black squirrel and went ashore to get 
him. But I couldn't find him, and in kick- 
ing round in the brush I came into a kind of 
trail or runway. Then I ran plumb into that 
darned jaguar. I was so scared I couldn't 
remember my gun. But the cat turned and 
ran. It was lucky he didn't make at me. 



When I saw him run I got back my courage. 
I called for Pepe to row down-stream and keep 
a lookout. Then I got into the flat. I must 
have come down a good ways before I saw 
him. I shot, and he dodged back into the 
brush again. I fired into the moving bushes 
where he was. And pretty soon I ventured 
to get in on the bank, where I had a better 
chance. I guess it was about that time that 
I heard you yell. Then it all happened. 
You hit him! Didn't you hear him scream? 
What a jump he made! If it hadn't been 
so terrible when your hammerless kicked 
Pepe overboard, I would have died laughing. 
Then I was paralyzed when the jaguar swam 
for the boat. He was hurt, for the water was 
bloody. Things came off quick, I tell you. 
Like a monkey Pepe scrambled into the tree. 
When I got my gun loaded the jaguar was 
crouched down in the bottom of the boat 
watching Pepe. Then I began to shoot. I 
can't realize he got away from us. What 
was the reason you didn't knock him?" 

"Well, you see, George, there were two 
good reasons," Ken replied. "The first was 
that at that time I was busy dodging bullets 
from your rifle. And the second was that you 
threatened my life if I killed your jaguar." 

"Did I get as nutty as that? But it was 


pretty warm there for a little. ... Say, was 
he a big one? My eyes were so hazy I didn't 
see him clear." 

"He wasn't big, not half as big as the one 
I lost yesterday. Yours was a long, wiry 
beast, like a panther, and mean -looking." 

Pepe sat on the bank, and while he nursed 
his bruises he smoked. Once he made a 
speech that was untranslatable, but Hal gave 
it an interpretation which was probably near 

"That's right, Pepe. Pretty punk tiger- 
hunters mucho punk!" 



"I'LL tell you what, fellows," said Hal. "I 
1 know where we can get a tiger." 

"We'll get one in the neck if we don't 
watch out," replied George. 

Ken thought that Hal Ic-oked very frank 
and earnest, and honest and eager, but there 
was never any telling about him. 

" Where?" he asked, skeptically. 

"Down along the river. You know I've 
been setting traps all along. There's a flat 
sand-bar for a good piece down. I came to 
a little gully full of big tracks, big as my 
two hands. And fresh!" 

"Honest Injun, kid?" queried Ken. 

"Hope to die if I'm lyin'," replied Hal. 
"I want to see somebody kill a tiger. Now 
let's go down there in the boat and wait for 
one to come to drink. There's a big log with 
driftwood lodged on it. We can hide be- 
hind that." 

"Great idea, Hal," said Ken. "We'd be 

15 215 


pretty safe in the boat. I want to say that 
tigers have sort of got on my nerves. I ought 
to go over in the jungle to look for the one I 
crippled. He's dead by now. But the longer 
I put it off the harder it is to go. I'll back 
out yet. . . . Come, we'll have an early dinner. 
Then to watch for Hal's tiger." 

The sun had just set, and the hot breeze 
began to swirl up the river when Ken slid the 
boat into the water. He was pleased to 
find that it did not leak. 

"We'll take only two guns," said Ken, 
"my .351 and the hammerless, with some ball- 
cartridges. We want to be quiet to-night, and 
if you fellows take your guns you'll be pegging 
at ducks and things. That won't do." 

Pepe sat at the oars with instructions to 
row easily. George and Hal occupied the 
stern-seats, and Ken took his place in the bow, 
with both guns at hand. 

The hot wind roared in the cypresses, and 
the river whipped up little waves with white 
crests. Long streamers of gray moss waved 
out over the water and branches tossed and 
swayed. The blow did not last for many 
minutes. Trees and river once more grew 
quiet. And suddenly the heat was gone. 

As Pepe rowed on down the river, Cypress 
Island began to disappear round a bend, and 



presently was out of sight. Ducks were al- 
ready in flight. They flew low over the boat, 
so low that Ken could almost have reached 
them with the barrel of his gun. The river here 
widened. It was full of huge snags. A high, 
wooded bluff shadowed the western shore. On 
the left, towering cypresses, all laced together 
in dense vine and moss webs, leaned out. 

Under Hal's direction Pepe rowed to a pile 
of driftwood, and here the boat was moored. 
The gully mentioned by Hal was some sixty 
yards distant. It opened like the mouth of 
a cave. Beyond the cypresses thick, inter- 
twining bamboos covered it. 

"I wish we'd gone in to see the tracks," 
said Ken. "But I'll take your word, Hal." 

"Oh, they're there, all right." 

"I don't doubt it. Looks great to me! 
That's a runway, Hal. . . . Now, boys, get a 
comfortable seat, and settle down to wait. 
Don't talk. Just listen and watch. Re- 
member, soon we'll be out of the jungle, 
back home. So make hay while the sun 
shines. Watch and listen! Whoever sees 
or hears anything first is the best man." 

For once the boys were as obedient as 
lambs. But then, Ken thought, the surround- 
ings were so beautiful and wild and silent that 
any boys would have been watchful. 



There was absolutely no sound but the in- 
termittent whir of wings. The water-fowl 
flew by in companies ducks, cranes, herons, 
snipe, and the great Muscovies. Ken never 
would have tired of that procession. It 
passed all too soon, and then only an oc- 
casional water-fowl swept swiftly by, as if 

Slowly the wide river-lane shaded. But it 
was still daylight, and the bank and the run- 
way were clearly distinguishable. There was 
a moment Ken could not tell just how he 
knew when the jungle awakened. It was not 
only the faint hum of insects; it was a sense 
as if life stirred with the coming of twilight. 

Pepe was the first to earn honors at the 
listening game. He held up a warning fore- 
finger. Then he pointed under the bluff. 
Ken saw a doe stepping out of a fringe of 

"Don't move don't make a noise," whis- 
pered Ken. 

The doe shot up long ears and watched the 
boat. Then a little fawn trotted out and 
splashed in the water. Both deer drank, 
then seemed in no hurry to leave the river. 

Next moment Hal heard something down- 
stream and George saw something up-stream. 
Pepe again whispered. As for Ken, he saw 



little dark shapes moving out of the shadow 
of the runway. He heard a faint trampling 
of hard little hoofs. But if these animals 
were javelin of which he was sure they did 
not come out into the open runway. Ken 
tried to catch Pepe's attention without mak- 
ing a noise; however, Pepe was absorbed in 
his side of the river. Ken then forgot he 
had companions. All along the shores were 
faint splashings and rustlings and crackings. 

A loud, trampling roar rose in the runway 
and seemed to move backward toward the 
jungle, diminishing in violence. 

"Pigs running something scared 'em," 
said George. 

"'S-s-s-sh!" whispered Ken. 

All the sounds ceased. The jungle seemed 
to sleep in deep silence. 

Ken's eyes were gmed to the light patch of 
sand-bank where it merged in the dark of the 
ran way. Then Ken heard a sound what, he 
could not have told. But it made his heart 
beat fast. 

There came a few pattering thuds, soft as 
velvet; and a shadow, paler than the dark 
background, moved out of the runway. 

With that a huge jaguar loped into the open. 
He did not look around. He took a long, easy 
bound down to the water and began to lap. 



Either Pepe or George jerked so violently 
as to make the boat lurch. They seemed to 
be stifling. 

"Oh, Ken, don't miss!" whispered Hal. 

Ken had the automatic over the log and in 
line. His teeth were shut tight, and he was 
cold and steady. He meant not to hurry. 

The jaguar was a heavy, squat, muscular 
figure, not graceful and beautiful like the one 
Ken had crippled. Suddenly he raised his 
head and looked about. He had caught a 

It was then that Ken lowered the rifle till 
the sight covered the beast lower yet to 
his huge paws, then still lower to the edge of 
the water. Ken meant to shoot low enough 
this time. Holding the rifle there, and hold- 
ing it with all his strength, he pressed the 
trigger once twice. The two shots rang out 
almost simultaneously. Ken expected to see 
this jaguar leap, but the beast crumpled up 
and sank in his tracks. 

Then the boys yelled, and Ken echoed 
them. Pepe was wildly excited, and began 
to fumble with the oars. 

"Wait! Wait, I tell you!" ordered Ken. 

"Oh, Ken, you pegged him!" cried Hal. 
"He doesn't move. Let's go ashore. What 
did I tell you? It took me to find the tiger." 



Ken watched with sharp eyes and held his 
rifle ready, but the huddled form on the sand 
never so much as twitched. 

"I guess I plugged him," said Ken, with 
unconscious pride. 

Pepe rowed the boat ashore, and when near 
the sand-bar he reached out with an oar to 
touch the jaguar. There was no doubt about 
his being dead. The boys leaped ashore and 
straightened out the beast. He was huge, 
dirty, spotted, bloody, and fiercely savage even 
in death. Ken's bullets had torn through the 
chest, making fearful wounds. Pepe jabbered, 
and the boys all talked at once. When it 
came to lifting the jaguar into the boat they 
had no slight task. The short, thick-set body 
was very heavy. But at last they loaded 
it in the bow, and Pepe rowed back to the 
island. It was still a harder task to get the 
jaguar up the high bank. Pepe kindled a fire 
so they would have plenty of light, and then 
they set to work at the skinning. 

What with enthusiasm over the stalk, and 
talk of the success of the trip, and compliments 
to Ken's shooting, and care of the skinning, 
the boys were three hours at the job. Ken, 
remembering Hiram Bent's teachings, skinned 
out the great claws himself. They salted the 
pelt and nailed it up on the big cypress. 


"You'd never have got one but for me," 
said Hal. ''That's how I pay you for the 
tricks you've played me!" 

"By George, Hal, it's a noble revenge!" 
cried Ken, who, in the warmth and glow of 
happiness of the time, quite believed his 

Pepe went to bed first. George turned in 
next. Ken took a last look at the great pelt 
stretched on the cypress, and then he sought his 
blankets. Hal, however, remained up. Ken 
heard him pounding stakes in the ground. 

"Hal, what 're you doing?" 

"I'm settin* my trot-lines," replied Hal, 

"Well, come to bed." 

"Keep your shirt on, Ken, old boy. I'll 
be along presently." 

Ken fell asleep. He did not have peaceful 
slumbers. He had been too excited to rest 
well. He would wake up out of a night- 
mare, then go to sleep again. He seemed to 
wake suddenly out of one of these black spells, 
and he was conscious of pain. Something 
tugged at his leg. 

"WTiat the dickens!" he said, and raised 
on his elbow. Hal was asleep between George 
and Pepe, who were snoring. 

Just then Ken felt a violent jerk. The 



blankets flew up at his feet, and his left leg 
went out across his brother's body. There was 
a string a rope something fast round his 
ankle, and it was pulling hard. It hurt. 

"Jiminy!" shouted Ken, reaching for his 
foot. But before he could reach it another 
tug, more violent, pulled his leg straight out. 
Ken began to slide. 

"What on earth?" yelled Ken. "Say! 
Something's got me!" 

The yells and Ken's rude exertions aroused 
the boys. And they were frightened. Ken 
got an arm around Hal and the other around 
George and held on for dear life. He was 
more frightened than they. Pepe leaped up, 
jabbering, and, tripping, he fell all in a 

"Oh! my leg!" howled Ken. "It's being 
pulled off. Say, I can't be dreaming!" 

Most assuredly Ken was wide awake. The 
moonlight showed his bare leg sticking out 
and round his ankle a heavy trot-line. It was 
stretched tight. It ran down over the bank. 
And out there in the river a tremendous fish 
or a crocodile was surging about, making the 
water roar. 

Pepe was trying to loosen the line or break 
it. George, who was always stupid when first 
aroused, probably imagined he was being 


mauled by a jaguar, for he loudly bellowed. 
Ken had a strangle-hold on Hal. 

"Oh! Oh! Oh-h-h!" bawled Ken. Not 
only was he scared out of a year's growth; 
he was in terrible pain. Then his cries grew 
unintelligible. He was being dragged out of 
the tent. Still he clung desperately to the 
howling George and the righting Hal. 

All at once something snapped. The ten- 
sion relaxed. Ken fell back upon Hal. 

"Git off me, will you?" shouted Hal. 
"Are you c-c-cr-azy?" 

But Hal's voice had not the usual note 
when he was angry or impatient. He 
was laughing so he could not speak natu- 

"Uh-huh!" said Ken, and sat up. "I guess 
here was where I got it. Is my leg broken? 
What came off?" 

Pepe was staggering about on the bank, 
going through strange motions. He had the 
line in his hands, and at the other end was 
a monster of some kind threshing about in 
the water. It was moonlight and Ken could 
see plainly. Around the ankle that felt 
broken was a twisted loop of trot-line. Hal 
had baited a hook and slipped the end of 
the trot-line over Ken's foot. During the 
night the crocodile or an enormous fish had 



taken the bait. Then Ken had nearly been 
hauled off the island. 

Pepe was doing battle with the hooked 
thing, whatever it was, and Ken was about 
to go to his assistance when again the line 

1 ' Great ! Hal, you have a nice disposition, ' ' 
exclaimed Ken. "You have a wonderful 
affection for your brother. You care a lot 
about his legs or his life. Idiot! Can't you 
play a safe trick? If I hadn't grabbed you 
and George, I'd been pulled into the river. 
Eaten up, maybe! And my ankle is sprained. 
It won't be any good for a week. You are a 
bright boy!" 

And in spite of his laughter Hal began to 
look ashamed. 



HTHE rest of that night Ken had more dreams ; 
1 and they were not pleasant. He awoke 
from one in a cold fright. 

It must have been late, for the moon was 
low. His ankle pained and throbbed, and to 
that he attributed his nightmare. He was 
falling asleep again when the clink of tin 
pans made him sit up with a start. Some 
animal was prowling about camp. He peered 
into the moonlit shadows, but could make 
out no unfamiliar object. Still he was not 
satisfied; so he awoke Pepe. 

Certainly it was not Ken's intention to let 
Pepe get out ahead; nevertheless he was lame 
and slow, and before he started Pepe rolled 
out of the tent. 

"Santa Maria!" shrieked Pepe. 

Ken fumbled under his pillow for a gun. 
Hal raised up so quickly that he bumped Ken's 
head, making him see a million stars. George 
rolled over, nearly knocking down the tent. 



From outside came a sliddery, rustling 
noise, then another yell that was deadened 
by a sounding splash. Ken leaped out with 
his gun, George at his elbow. Pepe stood 
just back of the tent, his arms upraised, and 
he appeared stunned. The water near the 
bank was boiling and bubbling; waves were 
dashing on the shore and ripples spreading 
in a circle. 

George shouted in Spanish. 

"Crocodile!" cried Ken. 

"Si, si, Senor," replied Pepe. Then he said 
that when he stepped out of the tent the croc- 
odile was right in camp, not ten feet from 
where the boys lay. Pepe also said that 
these brutes were man-eaters, and that he had 
better watch for the rest of the night. Ken 
thought him, like all the natives, inclined 
to exaggerate; however, he made no objection 
to Pepe's holding watch over the crocodile. 

"What'd I tell you?" growled George. 
"Why didn't you let me shoot him? Let's 
go back to bed." 

In the morning when Ken got up he viewed 
his body with great curiosity. The ticks 
and the cigarette burns had left him a beau- 
tifully tattoed specimen of aborigine. His 
body, especially his arms, bore hundreds of 
little reddish scars bites and burns to- 



gether. There was not, however, any itching 
or irritation, for which he made sure he had 
to thank Pepe's skill and the canya. 

George did not get up when Ken called 
him. Thinking his sleep might have been 
broken, Ken let him alone a while longer, but 
when breakfast was smoking he gave him a 
prod. George rolled over, looking haggard 
and glum. 

"I'm sick," he said. 

Ken's cheerfulness left him, for he knew 
what sickness or injury did to a camping trip. 
George complained of aching bones, head- 
ache and cramps, and showed a tongue with a 
yellow coating. Ken said he had eaten too 
much fresh meat, but Pepe, after looking 
George over, called it a name that sounded 
like calentura. 

"What's that?" Ken inquired. 

"Tropic fever," replied George. "I've had 
it before." 

For a while he was a very sick boy. Ken 
had a little medicine - case, and from it he 
administered what he thought was best, and 
George grew easier presently. Then Ken sat 
down to deliberate on the situation. 

Whatever way he viewed it, he always came 
back to the same thing they must get out 
of the jungle; and as they could not go back, 



they must go on down the river. That was a 
bad enough proposition without being ham- 
pered by a sick boy. It was then Ken had a 
subtle change of feeling; a shade of gloom 
seemed to pervade his spirit. 

By nine o'clock they were packed, and, 
turning into the shady channel, soon were out 
in the sunlight saying good-by to Cypress 
Island. At the moment Ken did not feel 
sorry to go, yet he knew that feeling would 
come by and by, and that Cypress Island 
would take its place in his memory as one 
more haunting, calling wild place. 

They turned a curve to run under a rocky 
bluff from which came a muffled roar of rapids. 
A long, projecting point of rock extended across 
the river, allowing the water to rush through 
only at a narrow mill-race channel close to 
the shore. It was an obstacle to get around. 
There was no possibility of lifting the boat 
over the bridge of rock, and the alternative 
was shooting the channel. Ken got out 
upon the rocks, only to find that drifting the 
boat round the sharp point was out of the 
question, owing to a dangerously swift cur- 
rent. Ken tried the depth of the water 
about four feet. Then he dragged the boat 
back a little distance and stepped into the 



"Look! Look!" cried Pepe, pointing to the 

About ten yards away was a bare shelf of 
mud glistening with water and showing the 
deep tracks of a crocodile. It was a slide, 
and manifestly had just been vacated. The 
crocodile-tracks resembled the imprints of a 
giant's hand. 

"Come out!" yelled George, and Pepe 
jabbered to his saints. 

"We've got to go down this river," Ken 
replied, and he kept on wading till he got the 
boat in the current. He was frightened, of 
course, but he kept on despite that. The 
boat lurched into the channel, stern first, and 
he leaped up on the bow. It shot down with 
the speed of a toboggan, and the boat whirled 
before he could scramble to the oars. What 
was worse, an overhanging tree with dead 
snags left scarce room to pass beneath. Ken 
ducked to prevent being swept overboard, 
and one of the snags that brushed and scraped 
him ran under his belt and lifted him into the 
air. He grasped at the first thing he could 
lay hands on, which happened to be a box, 
but he could not hold to it because the boat 
threatened to go on, leaving him kicking in 
midair and holding up a box of potatoes. Ken 
clutched a gunwale, only to see the water 


swell dangerously over the edge. In angry 
helplessness he loosened his hold. Then the 
snag broke, just in the nick of time, for in 
a second more the boat would have been 
swept away. Ken fell across the bow, held 
on, and soon drifted from under the threshing 
branches, and seized the oars. 

Pepe and George and Hal walked round the 
ledge and, even when they reached Ken, 
had not stopped laughing. 

"Boys, it wasn't funny," declared Ken, 

" I said it was coming to us," replied George. 

There were rapids below, and Ken went at 
them with stern eyes and set lips. It was the 
look of men who face obstacles in getting out 
of the wilderness. More than one high wave 
circled spitefully round Pepe's broad shoulders. 

They came to a fall where the river dropped 
a few feet straight down. Ken sent the boys 
below. Hal and George made a detour. But 
Pepe jumped off the ledge into shallow water. 

"Ah-h!" yelled Pepe. 

Ken was becoming accustomed to Pepe's 
wild yell, but there was a note in this which 
sent a shiver over him. Before looking, Ken 
snatched his rifle from the boat. 

Pepe appeared to be sailing out into the 
pool. But his feet were not moving. 

16 231 


Ken had only an instant, but in that he saw 
under Pepe a long, yellow, swimming shape, 
leaving a wake in the water. Pepe had 
jumped upon the back of a crocodile. He 
seemed paralyzed, or else he was wisely 
trusting himself there rather than in the water. 
Ken was too shocked to offer advice. Indeed, 
he would not have known how to meet this 

Suddenly Pepe leaped for a dry stone, and 
the energy of his leap carried him into the 
river beyond. Like a flash he was out again, 
spouting water. 

Ken turned loose the automatic on the croc- 
odile and shot a magazine of shells. The 
crocodile made a tremendous surge, churning 
up a slimy foam, then vanished in a pool. 

"Guess this '11 be crocodile day," said 
Ken, changing the clip in his rifle. "I'll bet 
I made a hole in that one. Boys, look out 

Ken shoved the boat over the ledge in line 
with Pepe, and it floated to him, while Ken 
picked his way round the rocky shore. The 
boys piled aboard again. The day began to 
get hot. Ken cautioned the boys to avoid 
wading, if possible, and to be extremely care- 
ful where they stepped. Pepe pointed now 
and then to huge bubbles breaking on the 



surface of the water and said they were made 
by crocodiles. 

From then on Ken's hands were full. He 
struck swift water, where rapid after rapid, 
fall on fall, took the boat downhill at a rate to 
afford him satisfaction. The current had a 
five or six mile speed, and, as Ken had no port- 
ages to make and the corrugated rapids of big 
waves gave him speed, he made by far the best 
time of the voyage. 

The hot hours passed cool for the boys 
because they were always wet. The sun sank 
behind a hill. The wind ceased to whip the 
streamers of moss. At last, in a gathering 
twilight, Ken halted at a wide, flat rock to 
make camp. 

"Forty miles to-day if we made an inch!" 
exclaimed Ken. 

The boys said more. 

They built a fire, cooked supper, and then, 
weary and silent, Hal and George and Pepe 
rolled into their blankets. But Ken doggedly 
worked an hour at his map and notes. That 
hard forty miles meant a long way toward 
the success of his trip. 

Next morning the mists had not lifted from 
the river when they shoved off, determined to 
beat the record of yesterday. Difficulties beset 
them from the start the highest waterfall of 



the trip, a leak in the boat, deep, short rapids, 
narrows with choppy waves, and a whirlpool 
where they turned round and round, unable 
to row out. Nor did they get free till Pepe 
lassoed a snag and pulled them out. 

About noon they came to another narrow 
chute brawling down into a deep, foamy pool. 
Again Ken sent the boys around, and he backed 
the boat into the chute; and just as the 
current caught it he leaped aboard. He was 
either tired or careless, for he drifted too close 
to a half-submerged rock, and, try as he 
might, at the last moment he could not avoid 
a collision. 

As the stern went hard on the rock Ken 
expected to break something, but was sur- 
prised at the soft thud with which he struck. 
It flashed into his mind that the rock was moss- 

Quick as the thought there came a rumble 
under the boat, the stern heaved up, there 
was a great sheet-like splash, and then a blow 
that splintered the gunwale. Then the boat 
shunted off, affording the astounded Ken a 
good view of a very angry crocodile. He had 
been sleeping on the rock. 

The boys were yelling and crowding down 
to the shore where Ken was drifting in. 
Pepe waded in to catch the boat. 



"What was it hit you, Ken?" asked Hal. 

"Mucho malo," cried Pepe. 

"The boat's half full of water the gun- 
wale's all split!" ejaculated George. 

"Only an accident of river travel," replied 
Ken, with mock nonchalance. "Say, Gar- 
rapato, when, about when is it coming to me?" 

"Well, if he didn't get slammed by a croc- 
odile!" continued George. 

They unloaded, turned out the water, 
broke up a box to use for repairs, and mended 
the damaged gunwale work that lost more 
than a good hour. Once again under way, 
Ken made some interesting observations. The 
river ceased to stand on end in places; croco- 
diles slipped off every muddy promontory, 
and wide trails ridged the steep clay-banks. 

"Cattle-trails, Pepe says," said George. 
"Wild cattle roam all through the jungle along 
the Panuco." 

It was a well-known fact that the ran- 
cheros of Tamaulipas State had no idea how 
many cattle they owned. Ken was so eager 
to see if Pepe had been correct that he went 
ashore, to find the trails were, indeed, those of 

"Then, Pepe, we must be somewhere near 
the Panuco River," he said. 

"Quien sabe?" rejoined he, quietly. 


When they rounded the curve they came 
upon a herd of cattle that clattered up the 
bank, raising a cloud of dust. 

"Wilder than deer!" Ken exclaimed. 

From that point conditions along the river 
changed. The banks were no longer green ; the 
beautiful cypresses gave place to other trees, 
as huge, as moss-wound, but more rugged 
and of gaunt outline; the flowers and vines 
and shady nooks disappeared. Everywhere 
wide-horned steers and cows plunged up the 
banks. Everywhere buzzards rose from grue- 
some feasts. The shore was lined with dead 
cattle, and the stench of putrefying flesh was 
almost unbearable. They passed cattle mired 
in the mud, being slowly tortured to death 
by flies and hunger; they passed cattle that 
had slipped off steep banks and could not get 
back and were bellowing dismally; and also 
strangely acting cattle that Pepe said had 
gone crazy from ticks in their ears. Ken 
would have put these miserable beasts out of 
their misery had not George restrained him 
with a few words about Mexican law. 

A sense of sickness came to Ken, and though 
he drove the feeling from him, it continually 
returned. George and Hal lay flat on the 
canvas, shaded with a couple of palm leaves; 
Pepe rowed on and on, growing more and more 



serious and quiet. His quick, responsive smile 
was wanting now. 

By way of diversion, and also in the hope 
of securing a specimen, Ken began to shoot 
at the crocodiles. George came out of his 
lethargy and took up his rifle. He would 
have had to be ill indeed, to forswear any 
possible shooting; and, now that Ken had 
removed the bar, he forgot he had fever. 
Every hundred yards or so they would come 
upon a crocodile measuring somewhere from 
about six feet upward, and occasionally they 
would see a great yellow one, as large as a 
log. Seldom did they get within good range 
of these huge fellows, and shooting from a 
moving boat was not easy. The smaller 
ones, however, allowed the boat to approach 
quite close. George bounced many a .32 
bullet off the bank, but he never hit a croco- 
dile. Ken allowed him to have the shots for 
the fun of it, and, besides, he was watching 
for a big one. 

"George, that rifle of yours is leaded. It 
doesn't shoot where you aim." 

When they got unusually close to a small 
crocodile George verified Ken's statement by 
missing his game some yards. He promptly 
threw the worn-out rifle overboard, an act 
that caused Pepe much concern. 



Whereupon Ken proceeded to try his luck. 
Instructing Pepe to row about in the middle 
of the stream, he kept eye on one shore while 
George watched the other. He shot half a 
dozen small crocodiles, but they slipped off 
the bank before Pepe could get ashore. This 
did not appear to be the fault of the rifle, for 
some of the reptiles were shot almost in two 
pieces. But Ken had yet to learn more about 
the tenacity of life of these water-brutes. 
Several held still long enough for Ken to shoot 
them through, then with a plunge they went 
into the water, sinking at once in a bloody 
foam. He knew he had shot them through, 
for he saw large holes in the mud-banks 
lined with bits of bloody skin and bone. 

' ' There's one, ' ' said George, pointing. ' ' Let's 
get closer, so we can grab him. He's got 
a good piece to go before he reaches the 

Pepe rowed slowly along, guiding the boat 
a little nearer the shore. At forty feet the 
crocodile raised up, standing on short legs, 
so that all but his tail was free of the ground. 
He opened his huge jaws either in astonish- 
ment or to intimidate them, and then Ken 
shot him straight down the throat. He 
flopped convulsively and started to slide and 
roll. When he reached the water he tun>ed 



over on his back, with his feet sticking up, 
resembling a huge frog. Pepe rowed hard to 
the shore, just as the crocodile with one last 
convulsion rolled off into deeper water. Ken 
reached over, grasped his foot, and was draw- 
ing it up when a sight of cold, glassy eyes 
and open-fanged jaws made him let go. 
Then the crocodile sank in water where Pepe 
could not touch bottom with an oar. 

"Let's get one if it takes a week," declared 
George. The lad might be sick, but there was 
nothing wrong with his spirit. ' ' Look there !' ' 
he exclaimed. "Oh, I guess it's a log. Too 

They had been unable to tell the difference 
between a crocodile and a log of driftwood 
until it was too late. In this instance a 
long, dirty-gray object lay upon a low bank. 
Despite its immense size, which certainly 
made the chances in. favor of its being a log, 
Ken determined this time to be fooled on the 
right side. He had seen a dozen logs as he 
thought suddenly become animated and slip 
into the river. 

"Hold steady, Pepe. I'll take a crack at 
that just for luck." 

The distance was about a hundred yards, 
a fine range for the little rifle. Resting on 
his knee, he sighted low, under the gray ob- 



ject, and pulled the trigger twice. There were 
two spats so close together as to ' be barely 
distinguishable. The log of driftwood leaped 
into life. 

"Whoop!" shouted Hal. 

"It's a crocodile!" yelled George. "You 
hit you hit! Will you listen to that?" 

"Row hard, Pepe pull!" 

He bent to the oars, and the boat flew shore- 

The huge crocodile, opening yard-long jaws, 
snapped them shut with loud cracks. Then 
he beat the bank with his tail. It was as 
limber as a willow, but he seemed unable to 
move his central parts, his thick bulk, where 
Ken had sent the two mushroom bullets. 
Whack! Whack! Whack! The sodden blows 
jarred pieces from the clay-bank above him. 
Each blow was powerful enough to have staved 
in the planking of a ship. All at once he 
lunged upward and, falling over backward, 
slid down his runway into a few inches of 
water, where he stuck. 

"Go in above him, Pepe," Ken shouted. 
"Here Heavens! What a monster!" 

Deliberately, at scarce twenty feet, Ken 
shot the remaining four shells into the croco- 
dile. The bullets tore through his horny 
hide, and blood and muddy water spouted up. 



George and Pepe and Hal yelled, and Ken 
kept time with them. The terrible lashing 
tail swung back and forth almost too swiftly 
for the eye to catch. A deluge of mud and 
water descended upon the boys, bespattering, 
blinking them and weighing down the boat. 
They jumped out upon the bank to escape it. 
They ran to and fro in aimless excitement. 
Ken still clutched the rifle, but he had no 
shells for it. George was absurd enough to 
fling a stone into the blood-tinged cloud of 
muddy froth and spray that hid the thresh- 
ing leviathan. Presently the commotion sub- 
sided enough for them to see the great croco- 
dile lying half on his back, with belly all torn 
and bloody and huge claw-like hands paw- 
ing the air. He was edging, slipping off into 
deeper water. 

"He'll get away he'll get away!" cried 
Hal. "What '11 we do?" 

Ken racked his brains. 

"Pepe, get your lasso rope him rope 
him! Hurry! he's slipping!" yelled George. 

Pepe snatched up his lariat, and, without 
waiting to coil it, cast the loop. He caught 
one of the flippers and hauled tight on it just as 
the crocodile slipped out of sight off the muddy 
ledge. The others ran to the boat, and, 
grasping hold of the lasso with Pepe, squared 



away and began to pull. Plain it was that 
the crocodile was not coming up so easily. 
They could not budge him. 

"Hang on, boys!" Ken shouted. "It's a 

The lasso was suddenly jerked out with a 
kind of twang. Crash! went Pepe and Hal 
into the bottom of the boat. Ken went 
sprawling into the mud. and George, who had 
the last hold, went to his knees, but valiantly 
clung to the slipping rope. Bounding up, 
Ken grasped it from him and wound it round 
the sharp nose of the bowsprit. 

"Get in hustle!" he called, falling aboard. 
"You're always saying it's coming to us. 
Here's where!" 

George had hardly got into the boat when 
the crocodile pulled it off shore, and away it 
went, sailing down-stream. 

"Whoop! All aboard for Panuco!" yelled 

"Now, Pepe, you don't need to row any 
more we've a water-horse," Ken added. 

But Pepe did not enter into the spirit of 
the occasion. He kept calling on the saints 
and crying, " Mucho malo." George and Ken 
and Hal, however, were hilarious. They had 
not yet had experience enough to know croco- 





Faster and faster they went. The water 
began to surge away from the bow and leave 
a gurgling wake behind the stern. Soon the 
boat reached the middle of the river where the 
water was deepest, and the lasso went almost 
straight down. 

Ken felt the stern of the boat gradually 
lifted, and then, in alarm, he saw the front 
end sinking in the water. The crocodile was 
hauling the bow under. 

"Pepe your machete cut the lasso!" he 
ordered, sharply. George had to repeat the 

Wildly Pepe searched under the seat and 
along the gunwales. He could not find the 

"Cut the rope!" Ken thundered. "Use 
a knife, the ax anything only cut it 
and cut it quick!" 

Pepe could find nothing. Knife in hand, 
Ken leaped over his head, sprawled headlong 
over the trunk, and slashed the taut lasso 
just as the water began to roar into the 
boat. The bow bobbed up as a cork that had 
been under. But the boat had shipped six 
inches of water. 

" Row ashore, Pepe. Steady, there. Trim 
the boat, George." 

They beached at a hard clay-bank and 


rested a little before unloading to turn out the 

"Grande!" observed Pepe. 

"Yes; he was big," assented George. 

"I wonder what's going to happen to us 
next," added Hal. 

Ken Ward looked at these companions of 
his and he laughed outright. "Well, if you 
all don't take the cake for nerve!" 



DEPE'S long years of mozo work, rowing 
* for tarpon fishermen, now stood the boys 
in good stead. All the hot hours of the day 
he bent steadily to the oars. Occasionally 
they came to rifts, bu' these were not difficult 
to pass, being mere swift, shallow channels 
over sandy bottom. The rocks and the rapids 
were things of the past. 

George lay in a kind of stupor, and Hal 
lolled in his seat. Ken, however, kept alert, 
and as the afternoon wore on began to be 
annoyed at the scarcity of camp -sites. 

The muddy margins of the river, the steep 
banks, and the tick-infested forests offered few 
places where it was possible to rest, to say 
nothing of sleep. Every turn in the widening 
river gave Ken hope, which resulted in dis- 
appointment. He found consolation, how- 
ever, in the fact that every turn and every 
hour put him so much farther on the way. 

About five o'clock Ken had unexpected 


good luck in shape of a small sand-bar cut 
off from the mainland, and therefore free of 
cattle- tracks. It was clean and dry, with a 
pile of driftwood at one end. 

"Tumble out, boys," called Ken, as Pepe 
beached the boat. "We'll pitch camp here." 

Neither Hal nor George showed any alacrity. 
Ken watched his brother; he feared to see 
some of the symptoms of George's sickness. 
Both lads, however, seemed cheerful, though 
too tired to be of much use in the pitching of 

Ken could not recover his former good 
spirits. There was a sense of foreboding in 
his mind that all was not well, that he must 
hurry, hurry. And although George appeared 
to be holding his own, Hal healthy enough, 
and Pepe's brooding quiet at least no worse, 
Ken could not rid himself of gloom. If he 
had answered the question that knocked at 
his mind he would have admitted a certainty 
of disaster. So he kept active, and when 
there were no more tasks for that day he 
worked on his note-book, and then watched 
the flight of wild fowl. 

The farther down the river the boys 
traveled the more numerous were the herons 
and cranes and ducks. But they saw no more 
of the beautiful pato real, as Pepe called them, 



or the little russet-colored ducks, or the dismal- 
voiced bitterns. On the other hand, wild 
geese were common, and there were flocks 
and flocks of teal and canvasbacks. 

Pepe, as usual, cooked duck. And he had 
to eat it. George had lost his appetite al- 
together. Hal had lost his taste for meat, 
at least. And Ken made a frugal meal of 

"Boys," he said, "the less you eat from now 
on the better for you." 

It took resolution to drink the cocoa, for 
Ken could not shut out remembrance of the 
green water and the shore-line of dead and 
decaying cattle. Still, he was parched with 
thirst; he had to drink. That night he slept 
ten hours without turning over. Next mom- 
ing he had to shake Pepe to rouse him. 

Ken took turns at the oars with Pepe. 
It was not only that he fancied Pepe was 
weakening and in need of an occasional rest, 
but the fact that he wanted to be occupied, 
and especially to keep in good condition. 
They made thirty miles by four o'clock, and 
most of it against a breeze. Not in the whole 
distance did they pass half a dozen places 
fit for a camp. Toward evening the river 
narrowed again, resembling somewhat the 
Santa Rosa of earlier acquaintance. The 

17 247 


magnificent dark forests crowded high on 
the banks, always screened and curtained by 
gray moss, as if to keep their secrets. 

The sun was just tipping with gold the 
mossy crests of a grove of giant ceibas, when 
the boys rounded a bend to come upon the 
first ledge of rocks for two days. A low, 
grassy promontory invited the eyes search- 
ing for camping-ground. This spot appeared 
ideal; it certainly was beautiful. The ledge 
jutted into the river almost to the opposite 
shore, forcing the water to rush through a 
rocky trough into a great foam-spotted pool 

They could not pitch the tent, since the 
stony ground would not admit stakes, so 
they laid the canvas flat. Pepe w.ent up 
the bank with his machete in search of fire- 
wood. To Ken's utmost delight he found a 
little spring of sweet water trickling from the 
ledge, and by digging a hole was enabled to 
get a drink, the first one in more than a week. 

A little later, as he was spreading the 
blankets, George called his attention to shouts 
up in the woods. 

' ' Pepe's treed something, ' ' Ken said. ' * Take 
your gun and hunt him up." 

Ken went on making a bed and busying 
himself about camp, with little heed to 



George's departure. Presently, however, he 
was startled by unmistakable sounds of alarm. 
George and Pepe were yelling in unison, and, 
from the sound, appeared to be quite a dis- 
tance away. 

"What the deuce!" Ken ejaculated, snatch- 
ing up his rifle. He snapped a clip in the 
magazine and dropped several loaded clips 
and a box of extra shells into his coat pocket. 
After his adventure with the jaguar he decided 
never again to find himself short of ammuni- 
tion. Running up the sloping bank, he en- 
tered the forest, shouting for his companions. 
Answering cries came from in front and a little 
to the left. He could not make out what was 

Save for drooping moss the forest was 
comparatively open, and at a hundred paces 
from the river-bank were glades covered with 
thickets and long grass and short palm-trees. 
The ground sloped upward quite perceptibly. 

"Hey, boys, where are you?" called Ken. 

Pepe's shrill yells mingled with George's 
shouts. At first their meaning was unin- 
telligible, but after calling twice Ken under- 

"Javelin! Go back! Javelin! We're treed! 
Wild pigs ! Santa Maria ! Run for your life !' ' 

This was certainly enlightening and rather 


embarrassing. Ken remembered the other 
time the boys had made him run, and he grew 
hot with anger. 

"I'll be blessed if I'll run!" he said, in the 
pride of conceit and wounded vanity. Where- 
upon he began to climb the slope, stopping 
every few steps to listen and look. Ken 
wondered what had made Pepe go so far for 
fire-wood; still, there was nothing but green 
wood all about. Walking round a clump of 
seared and yellow palms that rustled in the 
breeze, Ken suddenly espied George's white 
shirt. He was in a scrubby sapling not 
fifteen feet from the ground. Then Ken 
espied Pepe, perched in the forks of a ceiba, 
high above the thickets and low shrubbery. 
Ken was scarcely more than a dozen rods from 
them down the gradual slope. Both saw him 
at once. 

"Run, you Indian! Run!" bawled George, 
waving his hands. 

George implored Ken to fly to save his 
precious life. 

' ' What for? you fools ! I don't see anything 
to run from," Ken shouted back. His temper 
had soured a little during the last few days. 

"You'd better run, or you'll have to climb," 
replied George. "Wild pigs a thousand of 




"Right tinder us. There! Oh, if they 
see you! Listen to this." He broke off a 
branch, trimmed it of leaves, and flung it 
down. Ken heard a low, trampling roar of 
many hard little feet, brushings in the thicket, 
and cracking of twigs. As close as he was, 
however, he could not see a moving object. 
The dead grass and brush were several feet 
high, up to his waist in spots, and, though he 
changed position several times, no javelin 
did he see. 

"You want to look out. Say, man, these 
are wild pigs boars, I tell you! They'll 
kill you!" bellowed George. 

"Are you going to stay up there all night?" 
Ken asked, sarcastically. 

"We'll stay till they go away." 

"All right, I'll scare them away," Ken re- 
plied, and, suiting action to word, he worked 
the automatic as fast as it would shoot, 
aiming into the thicket under George. 

Of all the foolish things a nettled hunter 
ever did that was the worst. A roar answered 
the echoes of the rifle, and the roar rose from 
every side of the trees the victims were in. 
Nervously Ken clamped a fresh clip of shells 
into the rifle. Clouds of dust arose, and 
strange little squeals and grunts seemed to 



come from every quarter. Then the grass 
and bushes were suddenly torn apart by swift 
gray forms with glittering eyes. They were 

"Run! Run!" shrieked George, high above 
the tumult. 

For a thrilling instant Ken stood his ground 
and fired at the bobbing gray backs. But 
every break made in the ranks by the power- 
ful shells filled in a flash. Before that vicious 
charge he wavered, then ran as if pursued by 

The way was downhill. Ken tripped, fell, 
rolled over and over, then, still clutching 
the rifle, rose with a bound and fled. The 
javelin had gained. They were at his heels. 
He ran like a deer. Then, seeing a low branch, 
he leaped for it, grasped it with one hand, and, 
crooking an elbow round it, swung with the 
old giant swing. 

Before Ken knew how it had happened he 
was astride a dangerously swaying branch di- 
rectly over a troop of brownish-gray, sharp- 
snouted, fiendish-eyed little peccaries. 

Some were young and sleek, others were 
old and rough ; some had little yellow teeth or 
tusks, and all pointed their sharp noses up- 
ward, as if expecting him to fall into their 
very mouths. Feeling safe, once more Ken 



loaded the rifle and began to kill the biggest, 
most vicious javelin. When he had killed 
twelve in twelve shots, he saw that shooting a 
few would be of no avail. There were hun- 
dreds, it seemed, and he had scarcely fifty 
shells left. Moreover, the rifle-barrel grew so 
hot that it burnt his hands. Hearing George's 
yell, he replied, somewhat to his disgust : 

" I'm all right, George only treed. How 're 

"Pigs all gone they chased you Pepe 
thinks we can risk running." 

"Don't take any chances," Ken yelled, in 

"Hi! Hi! What's wrong with you gaza- 
bos?" came Hal's yell from down the slope. 
. "Go back to the boat," shouted Ken. 

"What for?" 

"We're all treed by javelin wild pigs." 

"I've got to see that," was Hal's reply. 

Ken called a sharp, angry order for Hal 
to keep away. But Hal did not obey. Ken 
heard him coming, and presently saw him 
enter one of the little glades. He had Ken's 
shotgun, and was peering cautiously about. 

"Ken, where are you?" 

"Here! Didn't I tell you to keep away? 
The pigs heard you some of them are edging 
out there. Look out! Run, kid, run!" 



A troop of javelin flashed into the glade. 
Hal saw them and raised the shotgun. 

Boom! He shot both barrels. 

The shot tore through the brush all around 
Ken, but fortunately beneath him. Neither 
the noise nor the lead stopped the pugnacious 
little peccaries. 

Hal dropped Ken's hammerless and fled. 

"Run faster!" yelled George, who evidently 
enjoyed Hal's plight. "They'll get you! 
Run hard!" 

The lad was running close to the record 
when he disappeared. 

In trying to find a more comfortable posture, 
so he could apply himself to an interesting 
study of his captors, Ken made the startling 
discovery that the branch which upheld him 
was splitting from the tree-trunk. His heart 
began to pound in his breast; then it went 
up into his throat. Every move he made 
for he had started to edge toward the 
tree widened the little white split. 

"Boys, my branch is breaking!" he called, 

"Can't you get another?" returned George. 

"No; I daren't move! Hurry, boys! If 
you don't scare these brutes off I'm a goner!" 

Ken's eyes were riveted upon the gap 
where the branch was slowly separating from 



the tree-trunk. He glanced about to see if 
he could not leap to another branch. There 
was nothing near that would hold him. In 
desperation he resolved to drop the rifle, 
cautiously get to his feet upon the branch, and 
with one spring try to reach the tree. When 
about to act upon this last chance he heard 
Pepe's shrill yell and a crashing in the brush. 
Then followed the unmistakable roar and 
crackling of fire. Pepe had fired the brush 
no, he was making his way toward Ken, armed 
with a huge torch. 

"Pepe, you'll fire the jungle!" cried Ken, 
forgetting what was at stake and that Pepe 
could not understand much English. But 
Ken had been in one forest-fire and remem- 
bered it with horror. 

The javelin stirred uneasily, and ran around 
under Ken, tumbling over one another. 

When Pepe burst through the brush, hold- 
ing before him long-stemmed palm leaves 
flaring in hissing flames, the whole pack of 
pigs bowled away into the forest at breakneck 

Ken leaped down, and the branch came with 
him. George came running up, his face white, 
his eyes big. Behind him rose a roar that Ken 
thought might be another drove of pigs till 
he saw smoke and flame. 



"Boys, the jungle's on fire. Run for the 

In their hurry they miscalculated the loca- 
tion of camp and dashed out of the jungle 
over a steep bank, and they all had a tumble. 
It was necessary to wade to reach the rocky 

Ken shook hands with Pepe. 

"George, tell him that was a nervy thing 
to do. He saved my life, I do believe." 

"You fellows did a lot of hollering," said 
Hal, from his perch in the boat. 

"Say, young man, you've got to go back 
after my gun. Why didn't you do what 
I told you? Foolish, to run into danger that 
way!" declared Ken, severely. 

"You don't suppose I was going to over- 
look a chance to see Ken Ward treed, do you?" 

"Well, you saw him, and that was no joke. 
But I wish Pepe could have scared those pigs 
off without firing the jungle." 

"Pepe says it '11 give the ticks a good roast- 
ing," said George. 

"We'll have roast pig, anyway," added 

He kept watching the jungle back of the 
camp as if he expected it to blow up like 
a powder-mine. But this Tamaulipas jungle 
was not Penetier Forest. A cloud of smoke 



rolled up ; there was a frequent roaring of dry 
palms; but the green growths did not burn. 
It was not much of a forest-fire, and Ken 
concluded that it would soon burn out. 

So he took advantage of the waning day- 
light to spread out his map and plot in the 
day's travel. This time Hal watched him 
with a quiet attention that was both natter- 
ing and stimulating; and at the conclusion 
of the task he said: 

''Well, Ken, we're having sport, but we're 
doing something more something worth 



JUST before dark, when the boys were at 
*J supper, a swarm of black mosquitoes 
swooped down upon camp. 

Pepe could not have shown more fear at 
angry snakes, and he began to pile green 
wood and leaves on the fire to make a heavy 

These mosquitoes were very large, black- 
bodied, with white-barred wings. Their bite 
was as painful as the sting of a bee. After 
threshing about until tired out the boys went 
to bed. But it was only to get up again, for 
the mosquitoes could bite through two thick- 
nesses of blanket. 

For a wonder every one was quiet. Even 
George did not grumble. The only thing to 
do was to sit or stand in the smoke of the camp- 
fire. The boys wore their gloves and wrapped 
blankets round heads and shoulders. They 
crouched over the fire until tired of that 
position, then stood up till they could stand 



no longer. It was a wretched, sleepless night 
with the bloodthirsty mosquitoes humming 
about like a swarm of bees. They did not 
go away until dawn. 

"That's what I get for losing the mosquito- 
netting," said Ken, wearily. 

Breakfast was not a cheerful meal, despite 
the fact that the boys all tried to brace up. 

George's condition showed Ken the neces- 
sity for renewed efforts to get out of the jungle. 
Pepe appeared heavy and slow, and, what was 
more alarming, he had lost his appetite. Hal 
was cross, but seemed to keep well. It was 
hard enough for Ken to persuade George and 
Pepe to take the bitter doses of quinine, and 
Hal positively refused. 

"It makes me sick, I tell you," said Hal, 

"But Hal, you ought to be guided by my 
judgment now," replied Ken, gently. 

"I don't care. I've had enough of bitter 

"I ask you as a favor?" persisted Ken, 


"Well, then, I'll have to make you take 

"Wha-at?" roared Hal. 

" If necessary , I'll throw you down and pry 


open your mouth and get Pepe to stuff these 
pills down your throat. There!" went on 
Ken, and now he did not recognize his own 

Hal looked quickly at his brother, and was 
amazed and all at once shaken. 

"Why, Ken" he faltered. 

"I ought to have made you take them 
before," interrupted Ken. "But I've been 
too easy. Now, Hal, listen and you, too, 
George. I've made a bad mess of this trip. 
I got you into this jungle, and I ought to have 
taken better care of you, whether you would 
or not. George has fever. Pepe is getting 
it. I'm afraid you won't escape. You all 
would drink unboiled water." 

"Ken, that's all right, but you can get 
fever from the bites of the ticks," said George. 

"I dare say. But just the same you could 
have been careful about the water. Not only 
that look how careless we have been. Think 
of the things that have happened! We've 
gotten almost wild on this trip. We don't 
realize. But wait till we get home. Then 
we'll hardly be able to believe we ever had 
these adventures. But our foolishness, our 
carelessness, must stop right here. If we can't 
profit by our lucky escapes yesterday from 
that lassoed crocodile and the wild pigs we 



are simply no good. I love fun and* sport. 
But there's a limit. Hal, remember what old 
Hiram told you about being foolhardily brave. 
I think we have been wonderfully lucky. 
Now let's deserve our good luck. Let's not 
prove what that Tampico hotel-man said. 
Let's show we are not just wild-goose-chasing 
boys. I put it to you straight. I think the 
real test is yet to come, and I want you to 
help me. No more tricks. No more drink- 
ing unboiled water. No more shooting except 
in self-defense. We must not eat any more 
meat. No more careless wandering up the 
banks. No chances. See? And fight the 
fever. Don't give up. Then when we get 
out of this awful jungle we can look back at 
our adventures and, better, we can be sure 
we've learned a lot. We shall have accom- 
plished something, and that's learning. Now, 
how about it? Will you help me?" 

"You can just bet your life," replied George, 
and he held out his hand. 

"Ken, I'm with you," was Hal's quiet 
promise ; and Ken knew from the way the lad 
spoke that he was in dead earnest. When it 
came to the last ditch Hal Ward was as true 
as steel. He took the raw, bitter quinine Ken 
offered and swallowed it without a grimace. 

' ' Good !" exclaimed Ken. ' ' Now, boys, let's 


pack. Hal, you let your menagerie go. 
There's no use keeping your pets any longer. 
George, you make yourself a bed on the trunk, 
and fix a palm-leaf sun-shelter. Then lie 

When the boat had been packed and all was 
in readiness for the start, George was sound 
asleep. They shoved off into the current. 
Pepe and Ken took turns at the oars, making 
five miles an hour. 

As on the day before, they glided under the 
shadows of the great moss-twined cypresses, 
along the muddy banks where crocodiles 
basked in the sun and gaunt cattle came down 
to drink. Once the boat turned a bushy point 
to startle a large flock of wild turkeys, per- 
haps thirty-five in number. They had been 
resting in the cool sand along the river. Some 
ran up the bank, some half-dozen flew right 
over the boat, and most of them squatted down 
as if to evade detection. Thereafter turkeys 
and ducks and geese became so common as to 
be monotonous. 

About one o'clock Ken sighted a thatched 
bamboo and palm-leaf hut on the bank. 

"Oh, boys, look! look!" cried Ken, joyfully. 

Hal was as pleased as Ken, and George 
roused out of his slumber. Pepe grinned and 
nodded his head. 



Some naked little children ran like quail. 
A disheveled black head peeped out of a 
door, then swiftly vanished. 

"Indians," said George. 

"I don't care," replied Ken, " they're human 
beings people. We're getting somewhere." 

From there on the little bamboo huts were 
frequently sighted. And soon Ken saw a large 
one situated upon a high bluff. Ken was won- 
dering if these natives would be hospitable. 

Upon rounding the next bend the boys 
came unexpectedly upon a connecting river. 
It was twice as wide as the Santa Rosa, and 
quite swift. 

"Tamaulipas," said Pepe. 

"Hooray! boys, this is the source of the 
Panuco, sure as you're born," cried Ken. "I 
told you we were getting somewhere." 

He was overcome with the discovery. This 
meant success. 

"Savalo! Savalo!" exclaimed Pepe, point- 

;< Tarpon! Tarpon! What do you think 
of that? 'Way up here! We must be a long 
distance from tide-water," said George. 

Ken looked around over the broad pool 
below the junction of the two rivers. And 
here and there he saw swirls, and big splashes, 
and then the silver sides of rolling tarpon. 

18 263 


"Boys, seeing we've packed that can of 
preserved mullet all the way, and those 
thundering heavy tackles, let's try for tar- 
pon," suggested Ken. 

It was wonderful to see how the boys re- 
sponded. Pepe was no longer slow and 
heavy. George forgot he was sick. Hal, 
who loved to fish better than to hunt, was as 
enthusiastic as on the first day. 

"Ken, let me boss this job," said George, 
as he began to rig the tackles. "Pepe will 
row; you and Hal sit back here and troll. 
I'll make myself useful. Open the can. 
See, I hook the mullet just back of the head, 
letting the bar bcome out free. There ! Now 
run out about forty feet of line. Steady the 
butt of the rod under your leg. Put your left 
hand above the reel. Hold the handle of the 
reel in your right, and hold it hard. The 
drag is in the handle. Now when a tarpon 
takes the bait, jerk with all your might. 
Their mouths are like iron, and it's hard to get 
a hook to stick." 

Pepe rowed at a smooth, even stroke and 
made for the great curve of the pool where 
tarpon were breaking water. 

"If they're on the feed, we'll have more 
sport than we've had yet," said George. 

Ken was fascinated, and saw that Hal was 


going to have the best time of the trip. Also 
Ken was very curious to have a tarpon strike. 
He had no idea what it would be like. Pres- 
ently, when the boat glided among the rolling 
fish and there was prospect of one striking 
at any moment, Ken could not subdue a 
mounting excitement. 

"Steady now be ready," warned George. 

Suddenly Hal's line straightened. The lad 
yelled and jerked at the same instant. There 
came a roar of splitting waters, and a beau- 
tiful silver fish, longer than Hal himself, shot 
up into the air. The tarpon shook himself 
and dropped back into the water with a crash. 

Hal was speechless. He wound in his line 
to find the bait gone. 

"Threw the hook," said George, as he 
reached into the can for another bait. "He 
wasn't so big. You'll get used to losing 'em. 
There! try again." 

Ken had felt several gentle tugs at his line, 
as if tarpon were rolling across it. And in- 
deed he saw several fish swim right over where 
his line disappeared in the water. There were 
splashes all around the boat, some gentle 
swishes and others hard, cutting rushes. 
Then his line straightened with a heavy 
jerk. He forgot to try to hook the fish; in- 
deed, he had no time. The tarpon came half 



out of the water/wagged his head, and plumped 
back. Ken had not hooked the fish, nor had 
the fish got the bait. So Ken again let out his 

The next thing which happened was that 
the boys both had strikes at the same instant. 
Hal stood up, and as his tarpon leaped it 
pulled him forward, and he fell into the stern- 
seat. His reel-handle rattled on the gunwale. 
The line hissed. Ken leaned back and jerked. 
His fish did not break water, but he was won- 
derfully active under the surface. Pepe was 
jabbering. George was yelling. Hal's fish 
was tearing the water to shreds. He crossed 
Ken's fish; the lines fouled, and then slacked. 
Ken began to wind in. Hal rose to do like- 

"Gee!" he whispered, with round eyes. 

Both lines had been broken. George made 
light of this incident, and tied on two more 
leaders and hooks and baited afresh. 

"The fish are on the feed, boys. It's a 
cinch you'll each catch one. Better troll one 
at a time, unless you can stand for crossed 

But Ken and Hal were too eager to catch a 
tarpon to troll one at a time, so once more 
they let their lines out. A tarpon took Hal's 
bait right under the stern of the boat. Hal 



struck with all his might. This fish came up 
with a tremendous splash, drenching the boys. 
His great, gleaming silver sides glistened in 
the sun. He curved his body and straightened 
out with a snap like the breaking of a board, 
and he threw the hook whistling into the air. 

Before Hal had baited up, Ken got another 
strike. This fish made five leaps, one after 
the other, and upon the last threw the hook 
like a bullet. As he plunged down, a beau- 
tiful rainbow appeared in the misty spray. 

"Hal, do you see that rainbow?" cried Ken, 
quickly. "There's a sight for a fisherman!" 

This time in turn, before Ken started to 
troll, Hal hooked another tarpon. This one 
was not so large, but he was active. His 
first rush was a long surge on the surface. 
He sent the spray in two streaks like a motor- 
boat. Then he sounded. 

"Hang on, Hal!" yelled George and Ken 
in unison. 

Hal was bent almost double and his head 
was bobbing under the strain. He could 
not hold the drag. The line was whizzing 

"You got that one hooked," shouted 
George. "Let go the reel drop the handle. 
Let him run." 

He complied, and then his fish began a 


marvelous exhibition of lofty tumbling. He 
seemed never to stay down at all. Now he 
shot up, mouth wide, gills spread, eyes wild, 
and he shook himself like a wet dog. Then 
he dropped back, and before the boys had 
time to think where he might be he came 
up several rods to the right and cracked his 
gills like pistol-shots. He skittered on his 
tail and stood on his head and dropped flat 
with a heavy smack. Then he stayed under 
and began to tug. 

''Hang on, now," cried George. "Wind 
in. Hold him tight. Don't give him an 
inch unless he jumps." 

This was heartbreaking work for Hal. He 
toiled to keep the line in. He grew red in the 
face. He dripped with sweat. He panted for 
breath. But he hung on. 

Ken saw how skilfully Pepe managed the 
boat. The mozo seemed to know just which 
way the fish headed, and always kept the boat 
straight. Sometimes he rowed back and lent 
his help to Hal. But this appeared to anger 
the tarpon, for the line told he was coming 
to the surface. Then, as Pepe ceased to let 
him feel the weight of the boat, the tarpon 
sank again. So the battle went on round and 
round the great pool. After an hour of it 
Hal looked ready to drop. 



"Land him alone if you can," said Ken. 
"He's tiring, Hal." 

"I'll land him or or bust!" panted Hal. 

"Look out, now!" warned George again. 
"He's coming up. See the line. Be ready 
to trim the boat if he drops aboard. Wow!" 

The tarpon slipped smoothly out of the 
water and shot right over the bow of the boat. 
Quick-witted George flung out his hand and 
threw Hal's rod round in time to save the line 
from catching. The fish went down, came 
up wagging his head, and then fell with sul- 
len splash. 

"He's done," yelled George. "Now, Hal, 
hold him for all you're worth. Not an inch 
of line!" 

Pepe headed the boat for a sandy beach; 
and Hal, looking as if about to have a stroke 
of apoplexy, clung desperately to the bending 
rod. The tarpon rolled and lashed his tail, 
but his power was mostly gone. Gradually he 
ceased to roll, until by the time Pepe reached 
shore he was sliding wearily through the water, 
his silvery side glittering in the light. 

The boat grated on the sand. Pepe leaped 
out. Then he grasped Hal's line, slipped his 
hands down to the long wire leader, and 
with a quick, powerful pull slid the tarpon 
out upon the beach. 



"Oh-h!" gasped Hal, with glistening eyes. 
"Oh-h! Ken, just look!" 

"I'm looking, son, and don't you forget 

The tarpon lay inert, a beautiful silver- 
scaled creature that looked as if he had just 
come from a bath of melted opals. The great 
dark eyes were fixed and staring, the tail 
moved feebly, the long dorsal fin quivered. 

He measured five feet six inches in length, 
which was one inch more than Hal's height. 

"Ken, the boys back home will never be- 
lieve I caught him," said Hal, in distress. 

"Take his picture to prove it," replied 

Hal photographed his catch. Pepe took 
out the hook, showing, as he did so, the great 
iron-like plates in the mouth of the fish. 

"No wonder it's hard to hook them," said 

Hal certainly wanted his beautiful fish to 
go back, free and little hurt, to the river. 
But also he wanted him for a specimen. Hal 
deliberated. Evidently he was considering the 
labor of skinning such a huge fish and the 
difficulty of preserving and packing the hide. 

"Say, Hal, wouldn't you like to see me hook 
one?" queried Ken, patiently. 

That brought Hal to his senses. 


"Sure, Ken, old man, I want you to catch 
one a big one bigger than mine," replied 
Hal, and restored the fish to the water. 

They all watched the liberated tarpon swim 
wearily off and slip down under the water. 

"He'll have something to tell the rest, 
won't he?" said George. 

In a few minutes the boat was again in the 
center of the great pool among the rolling 
tarpon. Ken had a strike immediately. 
He missed. Then he tried again. And in a 
short space of time he saw five tarpon in the 
air, one after the other, and not one did he 
hook securely. He got six leaps out of one, 
however, and that was almost as good as 
landing him. 

"There 're some whales here," said George. 

" Grande savalo," added Pepe, and he rowed 
over to where a huge fish was rolling. 

"Oh, I don't want to hook the biggest one 
first," protested Ken. 

Pepe rowed to and fro. The boys were busy 
trying to see the rolling tarpon. There would 
be a souse on one side, then a splash on the 
other, then a thump behind. What with 
trying to locate all these fish and still keep an 
eye on Ken's line the boys almost dislocated 
their necks. 

Then, quick as a flash, Ken had a strike 


that pulled him out of his seat to his knees. 
He could not jerk. His line was like a wire. 
It began to rise. With all his strength he 
held on. The water broke in a hollow, slow 
roar, and a huge humpbacked tarpon seemed 
to be climbing into the air. But he did not 
get all the way out, and he plunged back 
with a thunderous crash. He made as much 
noise as if a horse had fallen off a bridge. 

The handle of the reel slipped out of Ken's 
grasp, and it was well. The tarpon made a 
long, wonderful run and showed on the surface 
a hundred yards from the boat. He was ir- 
resistibly powerful. Ken was astounded and 
thrilled at his strength and speed. There, 
far away from the boat, the tarpon leaped 
magnificently, clearing the water, and then 
went down. He did not come up again. 

"Ken, he's a whale," said George. "I be- 
lieve he's well hooked. He won't jump any 
more. And you've got a job on your hands." 

"I want him to jump." 

"The big ones seldom break water after 
the first rush or so." 

"Ken, it's coming to you with that fel- 
low," said Hal. "My left arm is paralyzed. 
Honestly, I can pinch it and not feel the pain." 

Pepe worked the boat closer and Ken 
reeled in yard after yard of line. The tarpon 



was headed down-stream, and he kept up a 
steady, strong strain. 

"Let him tow the boat," said George. 
"Hold the drag, Ken. Let him tow the 

"What!" exclaimed Ken, in amaze. 

"Oh, he'll do it, all right." 

And so it proved. Ken's tarpon, once 
headed with the current, did not turn, and 
he towed the boat. 

"This is a new way for me to tire out a 
fish," said Ken. "What do you think of it, 

Hal's eyes glistened. 

"This is fishing. Ken, did you see him 
when he came up?" 

"Not very clearly. I had buck-fever. You 
know how a grouse looks when he flushes 
right under your feet a kind of brown blur. 
Well, this was the same, only silver." 

At the end of what Ken judged to be a 
mile the tarpon was still going. At the end 
of the second mile he was tired. And three 
miles down the river from where the fish was 
hooked Pepe beached the boat on a sand- 
bar and hauled ashore a tarpon six feet ten 
inches long. 

Here Ken echoed Hal's panting gasp 
of wonder and exultation. As he sat down 



on the boat to rest he had no feeling in 
his left arm, and little in his right. His 
knuckles were skinned and bloody. No 
game of baseball he had ever pitched had 
taken his strength like the conquest of this 
magnificent fish. 

"Hal, we'll have some more of this fishing 
when we get to Tampico," said Ken. "Why, 
this beats hunting. You have the sport, and 
you needn't kill anything. This tarpon isn't 

So Ken photographed his prize and measured 
him, and, taking a last lingering glance at the 
great green back, the silver-bronze sides, the 
foot -wide flukes of the tail, at the whole 
quivering fire-tinted length, he slid the tarpon 
back into the river. 



MUCH as Ken would have liked to go back 
to that pool, he did not think of it twice. 
And as soon as the excitement had subsided 
and the journey was resumed, George and Hal, 
and Pepe, too, settled down into a silent 
weariness that made Ken anxious. 

During the afternoon Ken saw Pepe slowly 
droop lower and lower at the oars till the time 
came when he could scarcely lift them to 
make a stroke. And when Ken relieved him 
of them, Pepe fell like a log in the boat. 

George slept. Hal seemed to be fighting 
stupor. Pepe lay motionless on his seat. They 
were all going down with the fever, that 
Ken knew, and it took all his courage to face 
the situation. It warmed his heart to see how 
Hal was trying to bear up under a languor 
that must have been well-nigh impossible to 
resist. At last Hal said: 

"Ken, let me row." He would not admit 
that he was sick. 



Ken thought it would do Hal no harm to 
work. But Ken did not want to lose time. 
So he hit upon a plan that pleased him. 
There was an extra pair of oars in the boat. 
Ken fashioned rude pegs from a stick and 
drove these down into the cleat inside the 
gunwales. With stout rope he tied the oars 
to the pegs, which answered fairly well as 
oarlocks. Then they had a double set of 
oars going, and made much better time. 

George woke and declared that he must take 
a turn at the oars. So Ken let him row, too, 
and rested himself. He had a grim forebod- 
ing that he would need all his strength. 

The succeeding few hours before sunset 
George and Hal more than made up for all 
their delinquencies of the past. At first it was 
not very hard for them to row; but soon they 
began to weary, then weaken. Neither one, 
however, would give up. Ken let them 
row, knowing that it was good for them. 
Slower and slower grew George's strokes. 
There were times when he jerked up spas- 
modically and made an effort, only to weaken 
again. At last, with a groan he dropped the 
oars, Ken had to lift him back into the bow, 

Hal was not so sick as George, and there- 
fore not so weak. He lasted longer. Ken 
had seen the lad stick to many a hard job, 



but never as he did to this one. Hal was mak- 
ing good his promise. There were times when 
his breath came in whistles. He would stop 
and pant awhile, then row on. Ken pretended 
he did not notice. But he had never been 
so proud of his brother nor loved him so well. 

"Ken, old man," said Hal, presently. "I 
was wrong about the water. I ought to 
have obeyed you. I I'm pretty sick." 

What a confession for Hal Ward! 

Ken turned in time to see Hal vomit over 
the gunwale. 

"It's pretty tough, Hal," said Ken, as he 
reached out to hold his brother's head; "but 
you're game. I'm so glad to see that." 

Whereupon Hal went back to his oars and 
stayed till he dropped. Ken lifted him and 
laid him beside George. 

Ken rowed on with his eyes ever in search 
of a camping-site. But there was no place to 
camp. The muddy banks were too narrow 
at the bottom, too marshy and filthy. And 
they were too steep to climb to the top. 

The sun set. Twilight fell. Darkness came 
on, and still Ken rowed down the river. At 
last he decided to make a night of it at the 
oars. He preferred to risk the dangers of the 
river at night rather than spend miserable 
hours in the mud. Rousing the boys, he 



forced them to swallow a little cold rice and 
some more quinine. Then he covered them 
with blankets, and had scarce completed the 
task when they were deep in slumber. 

Then the strange, dense tropical night 
settled down upon Ken. The oars were al- 
most noiseless, and the water gurgled softly 
from the bow. Overhead the expanse was 
dark blue, with a few palpitating stars. The 
river was shrouded in gray gloom, and the 
banks were lost in black obscurity. Great 
fireflies emphasized the darkness. He trusted 
a good deal to luck in the matter of going 
right ; yet he kept his ear keen for the sound 
of quickening current, and turned every few 
strokes to peer sharply into the gloom. He 
seemed to have little sense of peril, for, though 
he hit submerged logs and stranded on bars, 
he kept on unmindful, and by and by lost what 
anxiety he had felt. The strange wildness 
of the river at night, the gray, veiled space into 
which he rowed unheeding began to work 
upon his mind. 

That was a night to remember a night 
of sounds and smells, of the feeling of the cool 
mist, the sight of long, dark forest-line and 
a golden moon half hidden by clouds. Prom- 
inent among these was the trill of river frogs. 
The trill of a northern frog was music, but 



that of these great, silver-throated jungle 
frogs was more than music. Close at hand one 
would thrill Ken with mellow, rich notes; 
and then from far would come the answer, 
a sweet, high tenor, wilder than any other 
wilderness sound, long sustained, dying away 
till he held his breath to listen. 

So the hours passed; and the moon went 
down into the weird shadows, and the Southern 
Cross rose pale and wonderful. 

Gradually the stars vanished in a kind of 
brightening gray, and dawn was at hand. 
Ken felt weary for sleep, and his arms and back 
ached. Morning came, with its steely light 
on the river, the rolling and melting of vapors, 
the flight of ducks and call of birds. The 
rosy sun brought no cheer. 

Ken beached the boat on a sand-bar. 
While he was building a fire George raised 
his head and groaned. But neither Pepe nor 
Hal moved. Ken cooked rice and boiled 
cocoa, which he choked down. He opened 
a can of fruit and found that most welcome. 
Then he lifted George's head, shook him, 
roused him, and held him, and made him eat 
and drink. Nor did he neglect to put a 
liberal dose of quinine in the food. Pepe was 
easily managed, but poor Hal was almost 
unable to swallow. Something terribly grim 

19 279 


mingled with a strong, passionate thrill as 
Ken looked at Hal's haggard face. Then 
Ken Ward knew how much he could stand, 
what work he could do to get his brother out 
of the jungle. 

He covered the boys again and pushed out 
the boat. At the moment he felt a strength 
that he had never felt before. There was a 
good, swift current in the river, and Ken was 
at great pains to keep in it. The channel 
ran from one side of the river to the other. 
Many times Ken stranded on sandy shoals 
and had to stand up and pole the boat into 
deeper water. This was work that required 
all his attention. It required more than 
patience. But as he rowed and poled and 
drifted he studied the shallow ripples and 
learned to avoid the places where the boat 
would not float. 

There were stretches of river where the 
water was comparatively deep, and along 
these he rested and watched the shores as he 
drifted by. He saw no Indian huts that 
morning. The jungle loomed high and dark, 
a matted gray wall. The heat made the 
river glare and smoke. Then where the cur- 
rent quickened he rowed steadily and easily, 
husbanding his strength. 

More than all else, even the ravings of Hal 


in fever, the thing that wore on Ken and made 
him gloomy was the mourning of turtle-doves. 
As there had been thousands of these beau- 
tiful birds along the Santa Rosa River, so 
there were millions along the Panuco. Trees 
were blue with doves. There was an in- 
cessant soft, sad moaning. He fought his 
nervous, sensitive imaginings. And for a 
time he would conquer the sense of some sad 
omen sung by the doves. Then the monot- 
ony, the endless sweet "coo-ooo-ooo," seemed 
to drown him in melancholy sound. There were 
three distinct tones a moan, swelling to full 
ring, and dying away: "Coo-ooo-ooo coo- 

All the afternoon the mourning, haunting 
song filled Ken Ward's ears. And when the 
sun set and ' night came, with relief to his 
tortured ear but not to mind, Ken kept on 
without a stop. 

The day had slipped behind Ken with the 
miles, and now it was again dark. It seemed 
that he had little sense of time. But his 
faculties of sight and hearing were singularly 
acute. Otherwise his mind was like the weird 
gloom into which he was drifting. 

Before the stars came out the blackness was 
as thick as pitch. He could not see a yard 
ahead. He backed the boat stern first 



down-stream and listened for the soft murmur 
of ripples on shoals. He avoided these by 
hearing alone. Occasionally a huge, dark 
pile of driftwood barred his passage, and he 
would have to go round it. Snags loomed up 
specter-like in his path, seemingly to reach for 
him with long, gaunt arms. Sometimes he 
drifted upon sand-bars, from which he would 
patiently pole the boat. 

When the heavy dew began to fall he put 
on his waterproof coat. The night grew 
chill. Then the stars shone out. This light- 
ened the river. Yet everywhere were shadows. 
Besides, clouds of mist hung low, in places 
obscuring the stars. 

Ken turned the boat bow first down- 
stream and rowed with slow, even stroke. 
He no longer felt tired. He seemed to have 
the strength of a giant. He fancied that with 
one great heave he could lift the boat out of 
the water or break the oars. From time to 
time he ceased to row, and, turning his head, 
he looked and listened. The river had numer- 
ous bends, and it was difficult for Ken to keep 
in the middle channel. He managed pretty 
well to keep right by watching the dark 
shore-line where it met the deep-blue sky. 
In the bends the deepest water ran close to 
the shore of the outside curve. And under 



these high banks and the leaning cypresses 
shadows were thicker and blacker than in the 
earlier night. There was mystery in them 
that Ken felt. 

The sounds he heard when he stopped 
during these cautious resting intervals were 
the splashes of fish breaking water, the low 
hum of insects, and the trill of frogs. The 
mourning of the doves during daylight had 
haunted him, and now he felt the same sen- 
sation at this long-sustained, exquisitely sweet 
trill. It pierced him, racked him, and at last, 
from sheer exhaustion of his sensibilities, he 
seemed not to hear it any more, but to have 
it in his brain. 

The moon rose behind the left-hand jungle 
wall, silvered half of the river and the op- 
posite line of cypresses, then hid under 

Suddenly, near or far away, down the river 
Ken saw a wavering light. It was too large 
for a firefly, and too steady. He took it 
for a Jack-o'-lantern. And for a while it 
enhanced the unreality, the ghostliness of the 
river. But it was the means of bringing 
Ken out of his dreamy gloom. It made him 
think. The light was moving. It was too 
wavering for a Jack-o'-lantern. It was com- 
ing up-stream. It grew larger. 



Then, as suddenly as it had appeared, it 
vanished. Ken lost sight of it under a deep 
shadow of overhanging shore. As he reached 
a point opposite to where it disappeared he 
thought he heard a voice. But he could not 
be sure. He did not trust his ears. The 
incident, however, gave him a chill. What 
a lonesome rjde! He was alone on that un- 
known river with three sick boys in the boat. 
Their lives depended upon his care, his 
strength, his skill, his sight and hearing. 
And the realization, striking him afresh, 
steeled his arms again and his spirit. 

The night wore on. The moon disappeared 
entirely. The mists hung low like dim sheets 
along the water. Ken was wringing-wet with 
dew. Long periods of rowing he broke with 
short intervals of drifting, when he rested at 
the oars. 

Then drowsiness attacked him. For hours 
it seemed he fought it off. But at length it 
grew overpowering. Only hard rowing would 
keep him awake. And, as he wanted to re- 
serve his strength, he did not dare exert him- 
self violently. He could not keep his eyes 
open. Time after time he found himself 
rowing when he was half asleep. The boat 
drifted against a log and stopped. Ken 
drooped over his oars and slept, and yet he 



seemed not altogether to lose consciousness. 
He roused again to row on. 

It occurred to him presently that he might 
let the boat drift and take naps between 
whiles. When he drifted against a log or a 
sand-bar the jar would awaken him. The 
current was sluggish. There seemed to be 
no danger whatever. He must try to keep 
his strength. A little sleep would refresh 
him. So he reasoned, and fell asleep over 
the oars. 

Sooner or later he never knew how long 
after he had fallen asleep a little jar awakened 
him. Then the gurgle and murmur of water 
near him and the rush and roar of a swift 
current farther off made him look up with a 
violent start. All about him was wide, gray 
gloom. Yet he could see the dark, glancing 
gleam of the water. Movement of the oars 
told him the boat was fast on a sand-bar. 
That relieved him, for he was not drifting at 
the moment into the swift current he heard. 
Ken peered keenly into the gloom. Grad- 
ually he made out a long, dark line running 
diagonally ahead of him and toward the right- 
hand shore. It could not be an island or a 
sand-bar or a shore-line. It could not be 
piles of driftwood. There was a strange 
regularity in the dark upheavals of this loom- 



ing object. Ken studied it. He studied the 
black, glancing water. Whatever the line 
was, it appeared to shunt the current over to 
the right, whence came the low rush and 

Altogether it was a wild, strange place. 
Ken felt a fear of something he could not name. 
It was the river the night the loneliness 
the unknown about him and before him. 

Suddenly he saw a dull, red light far down 
the river. He stiffened in his seat. Then 
he saw another red light. They were like 
two red eyes. Ken shook himself to see if 
he had nightmare. No; the boat was there; 
the current was there; the boys were there, 
dark and silent under their blankets. This 
was no dream. Ken's fancy conjured up 
some red-eyed river demon come to destroy 
him and his charges. He scorned the fancy, 
laughed at it. But, all the same, in that dark, 
weird place, with the murmuring of notes 
in his ears and with those strange red eyes 
glowing in the distance, he could not help 
what his emotions made the truth. He was 
freezing to the marrow, writhing in a clammy 
sweat when a low "chug-chug-chug" enlight- 
ened him. The red eyes were those of a 

A steamboat on the wild Panuco! Ken 


scarcely believed his own judgment. Then 
he remembered that George said there were 
a couple of boats plying up and down the 
lower Panuco, mostly transporting timber and 
cattle. Besides, he had proof of his judg- 
ment in the long, dark line that had so puzzled 
him it was a breakwater. It turned the 
current to the left, where there evidently was 
a channel. 

The great, red eyes gleamed closer, the 
"chug-chug-chug" sounded louder. Then an- 
other sound amazed Ken a man's voice 
crying out steadily and monotonously. 

Ken wanted to rouse the boys and Pepe, 
but he refrained. It was best for them to 
sleep. How surprised they would be when he 
told them about the boat that passed in the 
night! Ken now clearly heard the splashing 
of paddles, the chug of machinery, and the 
man's voice. He was singsonging: "Dos y 
media, dos y media, dos y media." 

Ken understood a little Mexican, and 
this strange cry became clear to him. The 
man was taking soundings with a lead and cry- 
ing out to the pilot. Dos y media meant two 
and a half feet of water. Then the steam- 
boat loomed black in the gray gloom. It was 
pushing a low, flat barge. Ken could not 
see the man taking soundings, but he heard 



him and knew he was on the front end of the 
barge. The boat passed at fair speed, and it 
cheered Ken. For he certainly ought to be 
able to take a rowboat where a steamboat 
had passed. And, besides, he must be getting 
somewhere near the little village of Panuco. 

He poled off the bar and along the break- 
water to the channel . It was narrow and swift. 
He wondered how the pilot of the steamboat 
had navigated in the gloom. He slipped 
down-stream, presently to find himself once 
more in a wide river. Refreshed by his sleep 
and encouraged by the meeting with the 
steamboat, Ken settled down to steady 

The stars paled, the mist thickened, fog 
obscured the water and shore; then all turned 
gray, lightened, and dawn broke. The sun 
burst out. Ken saw thatched huts high on 
the banks and occasionally natives. This 
encouraged him all the more. 

He was not hungry, but he was sick for a 
drink. He had to fight himself to keep from 
drinking the dirty river-water. How different 
it was here from the clear green of the upper 
Santa Rosa! Ken would have given his best 
gun for one juicy orange. George was rest- 
less and rolling about, calling for water; 
Hal lay in slumber or stupor; and Pepe sat 



up. He was a sick-looking fellow, but he 
was better; and that cheered Ken as nothing 
yet had. 

Ken beached the boat on a sandy shore, 
and once again forced down a little rice and 
cocoa. Pepe would not eat, yet he drank a 
little. George was burning up with fever, 
and drank a full cup. Hal did not stir, and 
Ken thought it best to let him lie. 

As Ken resumed the journey the next thing 
to attract his attention was a long canoe 
moored below one of the thatched huts. 
This afforded him great satisfaction. At 
least he had passed the jungle wilderness, 
where there was nothing that even suggested 
civilization. In the next few miles he noticed 
several canoes and as many natives. Then 
he passed a canoe that was paddled by two 
half -naked bronze Indians. Pepe hailed them, 
but either they were too unfriendly to reply 
or they did not understand him. 

Some distance below Pepe espied a banana 
grove, and he motioned Ken to row ashore. 
Ken did so with pleasure at the thought of 
getting some fresh fruit. There was a canoe 
moored to the roots of a tree and a path 
leading up the steep bank. Pepe got out and 
laboriously toiled up the bare path. He was 
gone a good while. 



Presently Ken heard shouts, then the bang 
of a lightly loaded gun, then yells from Pepe. 

"What on earth!" cried Ken, looking up in 

Pepe appeared with his arms full of red 
bananas. He jumped and staggered down 
the path and almost fell into the boat. But 
he hung on to the bananas. 

"Santa Maria!" gasped Pepe, pointing to 
little bloody spots on the calf of his leg. 

"Pepe, you've been shot!" ejaculated Ken. 
"You stole the fruit somebody shot you!" 

Pepe howled his affirmative. Ken was 
angry at himself, angrier at Pepe, and angriest 
at the native who had done the shooting. 
With a strong shove Ken put the boat out 
and then rowed hard down-stream. As he 
rounded a bend a hundred yards below he saw 
three natives come tumbling down the path. 
They had a gun. They leaped into the canoe. 
They meant pursuit. 

"Say, but this is a pretty kettle of fish!" 
muttered Ken, and he bent to the oars. 

Of course Pepe had been in the wrong. 
He should have paid for the bananas or asked 
for them. All the same, Ken was not in any 
humor to be fooled with by excitable natives. 
He had a sick brother in the boat and meant 
to get that lad out of the jungle as quickly 



as will and strength could do it. He cer- 
tainly did not intend to be stopped by a few 
miserable Indians angry over the loss of a few 
bananas. If it had not been for the gun, 
Ken would have stopped long enough to pay 
for the fruit. But he could not risk it now. 
So he pulled a strong stroke down-stream. 

The worst of the matter developed when 
Pepe peeled one of the bananas. It was too 
green to eat. 

Presently the native canoe hove in sight 
round the bend. All three men were pad- 
dling. They made the long craft fly through 
the water. Ken saw instantly that they would 
overhaul him in a long race, and this added 
to his resentment. Pepe looked back and 
jabbered and shook his brawny fists at the 
natives. Ken was glad to see that the long 
stretch of river below did not show a canoe 
or hut along the banks. He preferred to be over- 
hauled, if he had to be, in a rather lonely spot. 

It was wonderful how those natives pro- 
pelled that log canoe. And when one of the 
three dropped his paddle to pick up the gun, 
the speed of the canoe seemed not to diminish. 
They knew the channels, and so gained on 
Ken. He had to pick the best he could 
choose at short notice, and sometimes he 
chose poorly. 



Two miles or more below the bend the 
natives with the gun deliberately fired, pre- 
sumably at Pepe. The shot scattered and 
skipped along the water and did not come 
near the boat. Nevertheless, as the canoe 
was gaining and the crazy native was reload- 
ing, Ken saw he would soon be within range. 
Something had to be done. 

Ken wondered if he could not frighten 
those natives. They had probably never 
heard the quick reports of a repeating rifle, 
let alone the stinging cracks of an automatic. 
Ken decided it would be worth trying. But 
he must have a chance to get the gun out of 
its case and load it. 

That chance came presently. The natives, 
in paddling diagonally across a narrow chan- 
nel, ran aground in the sand. They were 
fast for only a few moments, but in that time 
Ken had got out the little rifle and loaded it. 

Pepe's dark face turned a dirty white, and 
his eyes dilated. He imagined Ken was 
going to kill some of his countrymen. But 
Pepe never murmured. He rubbed the place 
in his leg where he had been shot, and looked 

Ken rowed on, now leisurely. There was 
a hot anger within him, but he had it in con- 
trol. He knew what he was about. Again 



the native fired, and again his range was short. 
The distance was perhaps two hundred yards. 

Ken waited until the canoe, in crossing 
one of the many narrow places, was broad- 
side toward him. Then he raised the auto- 
matic. There were at least ten feet in the 
middle of the canoe where it was safe for him 
to hit without harm to the natives. And 
there he aimed. The motion of his boat made 
it rather hard to keep the sights right. He was 
cool, careful; he aimed low, between gunwale 
and the water, and steadily he pulled the 
trigger once, twice, three times, four, five. 

The steel- jacketed bullets "spoued" on 
the water and "cracked" into the canoe. 
They evidently split both gunwales low down 
at the water-line. The yelling, terror-strick- 
en natives plunged about, and what with 
their actions and the great split in the middle 
the canoe filled and sank. The natives were 
not over their depth ; that was plainly evident. 
Moreover, it was equally evident that they 
dared not wade in the quicksand. So they 
swam to the shallower water, and there, like 
huge turtles, floundered toward the shore. 



DEFORE the natives had reached the 
J ' shore they were hidden from Ken's 
sight by leaning cypress - trees. Ken, how- 
ever, had no fear for their safety. He was 
sorry to cause the Indians' loss of a gun and 
a canoe; nevertheless, he was not far from 
echoing Pepe's repeated: "Bueno! Bueno! 

Upon examination Ken found two little 
bloody holes in the muscles of Pepe's leg. 
A single shot had passed through. Ken 
bathed the wounds with an antiseptic lotion 
and bound them with clean bandages. 

Pepe appeared to be pretty weak, so Ken 
did not ask him to take the oars. Then, 
pulling with long, steady stroke, Ken set out 
to put a long stretch between him and the 
angry natives. The current was swift, and 
Ken made five miles or more an hour. He 
kept that pace for three hours without a rest. 
And then he gave out. It seemed that all at 



once he weakened. His back bore an im- 
mense burden. His arms were lead, and his 
hands were useless. There was an occasional 
mist or veil before his sight. He was wet, 
hot, breathless, numb. But he knew he was 
safe from pursuit. So he rested and let the 
boat drift. 

George sat up, green in the face, a most 
miserable-looking boy. But that he could 
sit up at all was hopeful. 

"Oh, my head!" he moaned. "Is there 
anything I can drink? My mouth is dry 
pasted shut." 

Ken had two lemons he had been saving. 
He cut one in halves and divided it between 
Pepe and George. The relief the sour lemon 
afforded both showed Ken how wise he had 
been to save the lemons. Then he roused 
Hal, and, lifting the lad's head, made him 
drink a little of the juice. Hal was a sick 
boy, too weak to sit up without help. 

' ' Don't you worry Ken, ' ' he said. ' ' I'm 
going to be all right." 

Hal was still fighting. 

Ken readjusted the palm-leaf shelter over 
the boys so as to shade them effectually from 
the hot sun, and then he went back to the 

As he tried once more to row, Ken was re- 
20 295 


minded of the terrible lassitude that had over- 
taken him the day he had made the six -hour 
climb out of the Grand Canon. The sensa- 
tion now was worse, but Ken had others de- 
pending upon his exertions, and that spurred 
him to the effort which otherwise would have 
been impossible. 

It was really not rowing that Ken accom- 
plished. It was a weary puttering with oars 
he could not lift, handles he could not hold. 
At best he managed to guide the boat into 
the swiftest channels. Whenever he felt that 
he was just about to collapse, then he would 
look at Hal's pale face. That would revive 
him. So the hot hours dragged by. 

They came, after several miles, upon more 
huts and natives. And farther down they 
met canoes on the river. Pepe interrogated 
the natives. According to George, who lis- 
tened, Panuco was far, far away, many kilo- 
meters. This was most disheartening. Another 
native said the village was just round the 
next bend. This was most happy informa- 
tion. But it turned out to be a lie. There 
was no village around any particular bend 
nothing save bare banks for miles. The 
stretches of the river were long, and bends 
far apart. 

Ken fell asleep. When he awoke he found 


Pepe at the oars. Watching him, Ken fancied 
he was recovering, and was overjoyed. 

About four o'clock in the afternoon Pepe 
rowed ashore and beached the boat at the 
foot of a trail leading up to a large bamboo 
and thatch hut. This time Ken thought it 
well to accompany Pepe. And as he climbed 
the path he found his legs stiffer and shakier 
than ever before. 

Ken saw a cleared space in which were sev- 
eral commodious huts, gardens, and flowers. 
There was a grassy yard in which little naked 
children were playing with tame deer and 
tiger-cats. Parrots were screeching, and other 
tame birds fluttered about. It appeared a real 
paradise to Ken. 

Two very kindly disposed and wondering 
native women made them welcome. Then 
Ken and Pepe went down to the boat and 
carried Hal up, and went back for George. 

It developed that the native women knew 
just what to do for the fever-stricken boys. 
They made some kind of a native drink for 
them, and after that gave them hot milk and 
chicken and rice soup. George improved 
rapidly, and Hal brightened a little and showed 
signs of gathering strength. 

Ken could not eat until he had something 
to quench his thirst. Upon inquiring, Pepe 



found that the natives used the river-water. 
Ken could not drink that. Then Pepe pointed 
out an orange-tree, and Ken made a dive 
for it. The ground was littered with oranges. 
Collecting an armful, Ken sat under the tree 
and with wild haste began to squeeze the juice 
into his mouth. Never had anything before 
tasted so cool, so sweet, so life-giving! He 
felt a cool, wet sensation steal all through his 
body. He never knew till that moment how 
really wonderful and precious an orange could 
be. He thought that as he would hate 
mourning turtle-doves all the rest of his life, 
so he would love the sight and smell and taste 
of oranges. And he demolished twenty-two 
before he satisfied his almost insatiable thirst. 
After that the chicken and rice made him feel 
like a new boy. 

Then Ken made beds under a kind of porch, 
and he lay down in one, stretched out lan- 
guidly and gratefully, as if he never intended 
to move again, and his eyes seemed to be 
glued shut. 

When he awoke the sun was shining in his 
face. When he had gone to bed it had been 
shining at his back. He consulted his watch. 
He had slept seventeen hours. 

When he got up and found Pepe as well as 
before he had been taken with the fever and 



George on his feet and Hal awake and ac- 
tually smiling, Ken experienced a sensation 
of unutterable thankfulness. A terrible bur- 
den slipped from his shoulders. For a mo- 
ment he felt a dimming of his eyes and a lump 
in his throat. 

"How about you, Ken, old man?" inquired 
Hal, with a hint of his usual spirit. 

"Wai, youngster, I reckon fer a man who's 
been through some right pert happenin's, 
I'm in tol'able shape," drawled Ken. 

"I'll bet two dollars you've been up 
against it," declared Hal, solemnly. 

Then, as they sat to an appetizing break- 
fast, Ken gave them a brief account of the 
incidents of the two days and two nights 
when they were too ill to know anything. 

It was a question whether George's voluble 
eulogy of Ken's feat or Hal's silent, bright- 
eyed pride in his brother was the greater 

Finally Hal said: "Won't that tickle Jim 
Williams when we tell him how you split 
up the Indians' canoe and spilled them into 
the river?" 

Then Ken conceived the idea of climbing 
into the giant ceiba that stood high on the 
edge of the bluff. It was hard work, but he 
accomplished it, and from a fork in the top- 



most branches he looked out. That was a 
warm, rich, wonderful scene. Ken felt that 
he would never forget it. His interest now r 
however, was not so much in its beauty and 
wildness. His keen eye followed the river 
as it wound away into the jungle, and when 
he could no longer see the bright ribbon of 
water he followed its course by the line of 
magnificent trees. It was possible to trace 
the meandering course of the river clear to 
the rise of the mountains, dim and blue in 
the distance. And from here Ken made more 
observations and notes. 

As he went over in his mind the map and 
notes and report he had prepared he felt that 
he had made good. He had explored and 
mapped more than a hundred miles of wild 
jungle river. He felt confident that he had 
earned the trip to England and the German 
forests. He might win a hunting trip on the 
vast uplands of British East Africa. But he 
felt also that the reward of his uncle's and 
his father's pride would be more to him. That 
was a great moment for Ken Ward. And 
there was yet much more that he could do to 
make this exploring trip a success. 

When he joined the others he found that 
Pepe had learned that the village of Panuco 
was distant a day or a night by canoe. How 




many miles or kilometers Pepe could not learn. 
Ken decided it would be best to go on at once. 
It was not easy to leave that pleasant place, 
with its music of parrots and other birds, and 
the tiger-cats that played like kittens, and the 
deer that ate from the hand. The women 
would accept no pay, so Ken made them 

Once more embarked, Ken found his mood 
reverting to that of the last forty-eight hours. 
He could not keep cheerful. The river was 
dirty and the smell sickening. The sun was 
like the open door of a furnace. And Ken 
soon discovered he was tired, utterly tired. 

That day was a repetition of the one before, 
hotter, wearier, and the stretches of river were 
longer, and the natives met in canoes were 
stolidly ignorant of distance. The mourning 
of turtle-doves almost drove Ken wild. There 
were miles and miles of willows, and every tree 
was full of melancholy doves. At dusk the 
boys halted on a sand-bar, too tired to cook a 
dinner, and sprawled in the warm sand to sleep 
like logs. 

In the morning they brightened up a little, 
for surely just around the bend they would 
come to Panuco. Pepe rowed faithfully on, 
and bend after bend lured Ken with deceit. 
He was filled with weariness and disgust, so 



tired he could hardly lift his hand, so sleepy 
he could scarcely keep his eyes open. He 
hated the wide, glassy stretches of river and 
the muddy banks and dusty cattle. 

At noon they came unexpectedly upon a 
cluster of thatched huts, to find that they made 
up the village of Panuco. Ken was sick, for he 
had expected a little town where they could 
get some drinking-water and hire a launch 
to speed them down to Tampico. This ap- 
peared little more than the other places he 
had passed, and he climbed up the bank 
wearily, thinking of the long fifty miles still 
to go. 

But Panuco was bigger and better than it 
looked from the river. The boys found a 
clean, comfortable inn, where they dined well, 
and learned to their joy that a coach left in 
an hour for Tamos to meet the five-o'clock 
train to Tampico. 

They hired a mozo to row the boat to 
Tampico and, carrying the lighter things, 
boarded the coach, and, behind six mules, 
were soon bowling over a good level road. 

It was here that the spirit of Ken's mood 
again changed, and somehow seemed subtly 
conveyed to the others. The gloom faded 
away as Ken had seen the mist-clouds dis- 
solve in the morning sunlight. It was the 



end of another wild trip. Hal was ill, but 
a rest and proper care would soon bring him 
around. Ken had some trophies and pictures, 
but he also had memories. And he believed 
he had acquired an accurate knowledge of 
the jungle and its wild nature, and he had 
mapped the river from Micas Falls to Panuco. 

"Well, it certainly did come to us, didn't 
it?" asked George, naively, for the hundredth 
time. "Didn't I tell you? By gosh, I can't 
remember what did come off. But we had 
a dandy time." 

"Great!" replied Ken. "I had more than 
I wanted. I'll never spring another stunt like 
this one!" 

Hal gazed smilingly at his brother. 

"Bah! Ken Ward, bring on your next old 

Which proved decidedly that Hal was get- 
ting better and that he alone understood his 

Pepe listened and rubbed his big hands, 
and there was a light in his dark eyes. 

Ken laughed. It was good to feel happy 
just then; it was enough to feel safe and glad 
in the present, with responsibility removed, 
without a thought of the future. 

Yet, when some miles across country he saw 
the little town of Tamos shining red-roofed 



against the sky, he came into his own again. 
The old calling, haunting love of wild places 
and wild nature returned, and with dreamy 
eyes he looked out. He saw the same beauty 
and life and wildness. Beyond the glimmer- 
ing lagoons stretched the dim, dark jungle. 
A flock of flamingoes showed pink across the 
water. Ducks dotted the weedy marshes. 
And low down on the rosy horizon a long 
curved line of wild geese sailed into the 

When the boys arrived at Tampico and 
George had secured comfortable lodgings for 
them, the first thing Ken did was to put Hal 
to bed. It required main strength to do this. 
Ken was not taking any chances with tropical 
fever, and he sent for a doctor. 

It was not clear whether the faces Hal 
made were at the little dried-up doctor or at 
the medicine he administered. However, it 
was very clear that Hal made fun of him 
and grew bolder the more he believed the man 
could not understand English. 

Ken liked the silent, kindly physician, and 
remonstrated with Hal, and often, just to 
keep Hal's mind occupied, he would talk of 
the university and baseball, topics that were 
absorbing to the boy. 

And one day, as the doctor was leaving, 


he turned to Ken with a twinkle in his eyes 
and said in perfect English: "I won't need to 
come any more." 

Hal's jaw began to drop. 

"Your brother is all right," went on the 
doctor. "But he's a fresh kid, and he'll 
never make the Wayne Varsity or a good 
explorer, either till he gets over that fresh- 
ness. I'm a Wayne man myself. Class of '82. 
Good day, boys." 

Ken Ward was astounded. "By George! 
What do you think of that? He's a Wayne 
med. I'll have to look him up. And, Hal, he 
was just right about you." 

Hal looked extremely crestfallen and re- 

"I'm always getting jars." 

It took a whole day for him to recover his 
usual spirits. 

Ken had promptly sent the specimens and 
his notes to his uncle, and as the days passed 
the boys began to look anxiously for some 
news. In ten days Hal was as well as ever, 
and then the boys had such sport with the 
tarpon and big sharks and alligator-gars that 
they almost forgot about the rewards they had 
striven so hard for and hoped to win. But 
finally, when the mail arrived from home, 
they were at once happy and fearful. George 



was with them that evening, and shared their 
excitement and suspense. Hal's letters were 
from his mother and his sister, and they were 
read first. Judge Ward's letter to Ken was 
fatherly and solicitous, but brief. He gave 
the boys six more weeks, cautioned them to be 
sensible and to profit by their opportunity, 
and he inclosed a bank-draft. Not a word 
about rewards! 

Ken's fingers trembled a little as he tore 
open the uncle's letter. He read it aloud : 

DEAR KEN, Congratulations! You've done well. 
You win the trip to Africa. Hal's work also was 
good several specimens accepted by the Smithsonian. 
I'll back you for the Yucatan trip. Will send letters 
to the American consul at Progreso, and arrange for 
you to meet the Austrian archaeologist Maler, who I 
hope will take you in hand. 

I want you to make a study of some of the ruins 
of Yucatan, which I believe are as wonderful as any 
in Egypt. I advise you to make this trip short and to 
the point, for there are indications of coming revolu- 
tion throughout Mexico. 

With best wishes, 


The old varsity cheer rang out from Ken, 
and Hal began a war-dance. Then both boys 
pounced upon George, and for a few moments 
made life miserable for him. 



"And I can't go with you!" he exclaimed, 

Both Ken and Hal shared his disappoint- 
ment. But presently George brightened up. 
The smile came back which he always wore 
when prophesying the uncertain adventures of 
the future. 

"Well, anyway, I'll be safe home. And you 
.fellows! You'll be getting yours when you're 
lost in the wilderness of Yucatan!" 


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the Authors' Alphabetical List which 
you will find on the reverse side of the 
wrapper of this book. Look it over 
before you lay it aside. There are 
books here you are sure to want some, 
possibly, that you have always wanted. 

It is a selected list; every book in it 
has achieved a certain measure of 

The Grosset & Dunlap list is not only 
the greatest Index of Good Fiction 
available, it represents in addition a 
generally accepted Standard of Value. 
It will pay you to 

Look on the Other Side of the Wrapper! 

In case the wrapper is lost write to 
the publishers for a complete catalog 


May be had wherever books are sold. Ask for Cresset & Dunlap's list 












The life story of "Buffalo Bill" by his sister Helen Cody 
Wetmore, with Foreword and conclusion by Zane Grey. 







May be had whtram boofci are sold. Ask for Grossat A Dunlap't list 


A story of the Royal Mounted Police. 

Thrilling adventures in the Par Northland." 

The story of a bear-cub and a dog. 

The tale of a "quarter-strain wolf and three-quarters husky" torn 
between the call of the human and his wild mate. 


The story of the son of the blind Grey Wolf and the gallant part 
he played in the lives of a man and a woman. 


The story of the King of Beaver Island, a Mormon colony, and his 
battle with Captain Plum. 


A tale of love, Indian vengeance, and a mystery of the North. 

A tale of a great fight in the " valley of gold " for a woman. 

The story of Fort o' God, where the wild flavor of the wilderness 
is blended with the courtly atmosphere of France. 


The story of Thor, the big grizzly. 

A love story of the Par North. 

A thrilling tale of adventure in the Canadian wilderness; 

The story of adventur* in the Hudson Bay wilds. 

Filled with exciting incidents in the land of strong men and women. 

A thrilling story of the Far North. The great Photoplay was made 
from this book. 



toy be had wherem boota tin told. JUk for Crotset ind Dtrolap's list 

CHIP OF THE FLYING U. Wherein the love affairs of Chip and 
Delia Whitman are charmingly and humorously told. 

THE HAPPY FAMILY. A lively and amusing story, dealing with 
the adventures of eighteen jovial, big hearted Montana cowboys. 

HER PRAIRIE KNIGHT. Describing a gay party of Easterners 
who exchange a cottage at Newport for a Montana ranch-house. 

THE RANGE DWELLERS. Spirited action, a range feud be* 
two families, and a Romeo and Juliet courtship make this a bright; 
jolly story. 

;THE LURE OF THE DIM TRAILS. A vivid portrayal of the 
experience of an Eastern author among the cowboys. 

,THE LONESOME TRAIL. A little branch of sage brush and the 
recollection of a pair of large brown eyes upset "Weary" David- 
eon's plans. 

[THE LONG SHADOW. A vigorous Western story, sparkling with 
the free outdoor life of a mountain ranch. It is a fine love story. 

GOOD INDIAN. A stirring romance of life on an Idaho ranch. 

FLYING U RANCH. Another delightful story about Chip and 

his pals. 
THE FLYING ITS LAST STAND. An amusing account of Chip 

and the other boys opposing a party of school teachers. 
THE UPHILL CLIMB. A story of a mountain ranch and of a 

man's hard fight on the uphill road to manliness. 
THE PHANTOM HERD. The title of a moving-picture staged in 
L New Mexico by the "Flying U " boys. 
THE HERITAGE OF THE SIOUX. The " Flying U " boys stage 

a fake bank robbery for film purposes which precedes a real one 

for lust of gold. 
THE GRINGOS. A story of love and adventure on a ranch So 

STARR OF THE DESERT. A New Mexico ranch story of mys- 

tery and adventure. 
THE LOOKOUT MAN. A Northern California story full of action; 

excitement and love. 



May be had wherever books are sold. Ask for Grosset & Dunlap's list. 


When two strong men clash and the under-dog has Irish 
blood in his veins there's a tale that Kyne can tell! And 
" the girl " is also very much in evidence. 


Donald McKay, son of Hector McKay, millionaire lum- 
ber king, falls in love with " Nan of the Sawdust Pile," a 
charming girl who has been ostracized by her townsfolk. 


The fight of the Cardigans, father and son, to hold the 
Valley of the Giants against treachery. The reader finishes 
with a sense of having lived with big men and women in a 
big country. 


The story of old Cappy Ricks and of Matt Peasley, the 
boy he tried to break because he knew the acid test was' 
good for his soul. 


In a little Jim Crow Republic in Central America, a man 
and a woman, hailing from the " States," met up with a 
revolution and for a while adventures and excitement came 
so thick and fast that their love affair had to wait for a lull 
in the game. 


This sea yarn recounts the adventures of three rapscal- 
lion sea-faring men a Captain Scraggs, owner of the green 
vegetable freighter Maggie, Gibney the mate and McGuff- 
ney the engineer. 


A story fresh from the heart of the West, of San Pasqual, 
a sun-baked desert town, of Harley P. Hennage, the best 
gambler, the best and worst man of San Pasqual and of 
lovely Donna. 



Los Angeles 
This book is DUE on the last date stamped below. 


_ r RECD ID 


If -JAN ( 
3AN 4 



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AtJG U/985 


UCLA-Young Research Library 

PS3513 .G868k 

L 009 531 473 8 




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